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October DVD Sales Nearly 20 Percent Ahead of Last Year

27 Nov, 2002 By: Judith McCourt

'Tis the season to be jolly, with October video sales registering a healthy 18.8 percent ahead of the comparable period last year, according to Nielsen VideoScan data.

Going into the holiday season, video sales are running a whopping 23.3 percent ahead of last year's tally for the first 10 months of 2001 -- thanks to DVD -- giving suppliers plenty of reason to be optimistic about record 2002 sales tallies.

According to Video Store Magazine market research, consumers should spend more than $12 billion on combined DVD and VHS sales in 2002, compared to $10.8 billion last year.

DVD sales in October were brisk, posting a 60.5 percent increase from the comparable four-week sales period last year. For the first 10 months of the year, disc unit sales are 75.8 percent higher than last year.

While the DVD Entertainment Group estimated 33 million households, or a little more than one-third of U.S. households, had one or more DVD set-top players at the end of the third quarter, DVD households buy the majority of video. In October, 68.5 percent of all unit sales were discs. So far in 2002, 64 percent of all sales have been in that format. By comparison, in October 2001, 51 percent of all video sales were discs.

VHS sales continued to slump in October. The number of cassettes sold in the four-week period dropped almost 25 percent from the comparable period last year, and the year-to-date total fell 19.5 percent. The decline is likely to increase in the final weeks of 2002 as consumers favor the purchase of discs over cassettes for holiday gifts.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's ‘PG-13'-rated Spider-Man was released Nov. 1, falling into the October reporting period, which ended Nov. 2. The title scaled to the top of the chart with just two days' sales and preorders counting in the monthly sales total. Spidey's combined sales were 23 percent more than the next closest finisher, Warner Home Video's Scooby-Doo. Of Spider-Man's sales, 82 percent were in the DVD format, continuing a trend of top hits skewing to disc.

Looking at other top sellers for the year, Warner's ‘PG'-rated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, released May 28, racked up 60 percent of its first-month sales from discs. New Line Home Entertainment's ‘PG-13'-rated The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, released Aug. 6, pulled in 73 percent of its first-month sales tally from DVD.

Warner, which includes New Line, HBO and PBS, finished first in the market-share sweeps, with 20.2 percent of all unit sales for the month. Two-thirds of the supplier's sales came from DVD. Warner's best performer at the sales counter in October was Scooby-Doo, which was the No. 2 overall seller in October and the top cassette finisher and No. 2-ranked DVD seller for the month.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment placed second, with 17.2 percent of the unit tally for the month.

Almost two-thirds of the Mouse's sales came from DVD, a stark contrast to the same month in 2001 when DVD accounted for 49 percent of its units sold through to consumers, underscoring the growing popularity of family titles in DVD format. Beauty and the Beast - Special Edition and Monsters, Inc. were Buena Vista's top sellers for the month, placing No. 4 and No. 5 in overall sales, respectively.

Columbia TriStar was the No. 3 finisher, with 15.6 percent of units sold in October, thanks to Spider-Man. DVD accounted for 73 percent of Columbia TriStar titles bought by consumers in October.

Universal Studios Home Video, which includes DreamWorks Home Entertainment, placed fourth in the supplier sweeps, with 11.7 percent of the unit sales in October. Almost three-quarters of the supplier's unit sales came from discs. The Scorpion King, released Oct. 1, was the No. 3 choice for consumers and the studio's best-seller for the month. DVD accounted for 73 percent of Universal's sales.

Rounding out the top five suppliers was Paramount Home Entertainment, with 7.3 percent of unit sales for the month.

Action/adventure was consumers' top genre choice at the sales counter, with 23.1 percent of combined unit sales. In October, a whopping 80 percent of all action/adventure titles were sold on DVD.

DVD is the mainstay of most genres. Foreign-film genre sales are dominated by DVD, with 92 percent of unit sales in October coming from discs. Just three genres remain anchored by cassette sales. Of children's nontheatrical titles purchased by consumers in October, 74 percent were cassette; 82 percent of fitness titles and 55 percent of special-interest titles were sold on VHS.

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