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November Brings Holiday Cheer to Video Sales Counter

20 Dec, 2002 By: Judith McCourt

November's healthy numbers at the cash register signal a happy ending for 2002. Consumers are on track to buy more than $12 billion worth of DVDs and cassettes in 2002, compared to the $10.8 billion that was spent in 2001.

Heading into the final four-week selling period of 2002, unit video sales are 21.1 percent ahead of last year. Unit sales of discs are running at a whopping 73.7 percent ahead of last year's tally, more than offsetting the 22.4 percent drop in volume from VHS sales.

While rental revenue has been hit in recent months, there's plenty of cheer in sales. November video sales were brisk for retailers, posting a 15.7 percent increase in unit sales over the comparable four-week period last year, according to Nielsen VideoScan data.

Consumers scooped up copies of the fourth-quarter sizzlers, boosting DVD sales to record levels. November DVD sales rocketed 43.4 percent over the comparable four-week selling period in 2001, which was more than enough to offset the downturn in cassette sales. DVD unit sales accounted for almost 70 percent of the November product mix.

Meanwhile sales of cassettes continued to skid, registering a 48.4 percent decrease for the four-week November sales period.

Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones, a 20th Century Fox release, toppled Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's Spider-Man, to score as the best-selling video in November. The sci-fi title was released Nov. 12, giving it plenty of time to sell, with combined unit sales running 10 percent ahead of Spidey for the month. The first three-week sales period showed that 84 percent of Clones' sales came from discs. While the sci-fi title rated a first-place overall finish and a top berth on the DVD chart, it finished in the No. 4 spot in cassette sales.

Spider-Man swung into the top spot in cassette sales and finished No.2 in overall sales for the month. For the four-week period, 70.1 percent of the Tobey Maguire starrer's sales came from discs.

Rounding out the top five sellers in November were Fox's Ice Age (No. 3), Columbia TriStar's Men in Black II (No. 4) and DreamWorks Home Entertainment's Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (No.5).

20th Century Fox battled it out with Warner to win the November market-share sweeps based on unit sales. Fox grabbed 19.2 percent of the combined VHS and DVD sales pie. The studio claimed 21 percent of disc sales for the month, thanks to the strong performance of Clones and Ice Age, which pulled first and third place finishes, respectively, on the Top 25 DVD sellers chart for the month. Overall a little more than three-quarters (76.3 percent) of Fox's sales for the month came from discs.

Warner Home Video finished a strong second in the November sweeps, with 19 percent of the month's sales. Warner, which includes New Line Home Entertainment, HBO and PBS, grabbed two of the top spots on both the Top 25 DVD Sellers and Top 25 VHS Sellers charts. New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Extended Edition
Also in the top five for market share in November were Columbia TriStar (No. 3, 16.1 percent), Buena Vista Home Entertainment (No. 4, 13.9 percent) and Universal Studios Home Video (No. 5, 8.2 percent).

Action/adventures and family titles were solid favorites, accounting for 20.9 percent and 20.5 percent of November unit sales, respectively. Spider-Man handed action/adventures the slim victory.

In keeping with the holiday season, family titles hit a sweet spot at the sales counter, commanding 20.5 percent of the units sold in November, as the hottest titles of the year enter the product stream and family favorites find new legs. Of all cassettes sold in November, 26.1 percent were family titles. The hottest seller on VHS was Fox's Ice Age, which was the No.2 cassette seller for the month. DreamWorks' Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was No. 3.

Family titles also struck a chord with disc buyers, accounting for 18 percent of the units sold on DVD in November. Sixty-one percent of all family sales in November were discs, compared with just 37 percent in November 2001. Manny the mammoth and his band of lovable prehistoric friends were the faves, finishing in the No.3 spot on the DVD chart. Spirit finished strong in the No. 5 spot.

Comedies were a distant third, with 14.1 percent of the unit share in November. Joining the top five favorites were: sci-fi (No. 4, 13.5 percent) and children's nontheatrical releases (No.5, 10.3 percent).

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