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Previously Viewed Sales Pull Rental Into the Black for October

18 Nov, 2004 By: Melinda Saccone

Competition from the sales counter continued to dampen rental demand in October, but rentailers fought back by dumping new releases into the sell-off bin at an accelerated pace.

Consumers spent $620.6 million on transactional rentals in October, a 15 percent decline from comparable spending last year. What rentals lacked, previously viewed title (PVT) sales made up.

PVT sales were the bright spot for rentailers, launching year-over-year comparable monthly spending out of the red as consumers spent a record $235.5 million purchasing previously viewed titles in October.

The additional revenue from PVT sales pushed monthly rental spending to $856.1 million, 2.1 percent more than comparable 2003 tallies when PVT sales revenue was added to the mix.

Consumers were quick to snatch up Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's controversial Fahrenheit 9/11 as it moved from the new-release wall into the selloff bin. The Michael Moore flick was released on video the first week in October, but was on PVT shelves in sufficient quantities to make it the No. 8 selling PVT release for the month.

While PVT sales continue to climb, transactional rental spending continued to fall short of comparable spending in 2003, resulting in part from a weaker release slate.

The box office strength of the new-release slate was off 7.4 percent from their 2003 counterparts. Last year, Warner Home Video's The Matrix Reloaded earned nearly $300 million in theaters prior to its video debut, accounting for 34 percent of the box office strength of 2003 October releases.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment took top honors in the monthly market share sweepstakes for the first time this year with 17.7 percent of all rental transactions in October.

The studio moved into first place, with two releases breaking into the top five rentals for October. Leading for the studio was The Day After Tomorrow, which was released Oct. 12 and claimed honors as the top rental debut for the month, generating $10.7 million in its first five days on rental shelves. The actioner earned $27.4 million in its three weeks of release, giving it the top rental spot in October.

Man on Fire, released mid-September, helped cement Fox's victory, earning $22 million tying for third and generating an additional $6.9 million in PVT sales.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment continued to maintain a solid presence on the rental front, taking the No. 2 spot with 15.9 percent of the monthly transactions.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment placed third with 12.9 percent, narrowly beating MGM Home Entertainment with 12.1 percent.

Warner Home Video slipped a few notches for the month heating up the stakes for bragging rights at the end of the year. Warner landed in fifth place with 9.8 percent of monthly rental transactions.

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