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Prime Time Continues for TV DVD

1 Sep, 2005 By: Judith McCourt

It's getting close to the start of the fall TV season, but don't expect any slowdown in the booming TV DVD market. So far this year, TV DVD unit sales are running 26 percent ahead of the comparable period in 2004.

Although they account for just 7 percent of all 2005 releases, they make up 15 percent of all DVD units sold through Aug. 21, according to Nielsen VideoScan data.

Suppliers may be holding their hottest titles of the year for the fourth quarter, but they are filling the gap with a steady stream of TV DVD releases that consumers are scooping up.

According to Nielsen VideoScan, unit sales of TV DVD accounted for nearly 20 percent of all DVDs bought by consumers the week ended Aug. 21. With an average price tag of $45.10 compared to $21.13 for a regular DVD, TV DVD is delivering twice the punch to supplier coffers.

And suppliers are taking note. Paramount Home Entertainment, which this year has been on an aggressive drive to pump out TV DVD, has seen unit sales so far this year rise nearly 70 percent, according to Nielsen VideoScan. TV DVD accounts for more than one-quarter of all Paramount's DVD units sold to date this year.

Paramount has hit the market at both ends. For the lucrative young-adult male demographic, the studio has scored big with “Chappelle's Show.” The first-season set, released in February 2004, is the best-selling TV DVD release of all time, with sales of more than 3 million units. Chappelle's Show: Season Two Uncensored, released in May, is the top TV DVD seller so far this year.

At the other end of the market, Paramount has a slew of product aimed at kids, thanks to its Nickelodeon franchise. “Dora the Explorer” is the studio's million-dollar baby, with DVDs featuring the inquisitive Latina holding two spots on the year's bestseller list.

Lions Gate Home Entertainment is showing particularly strong growth in the TV DVD category, with unit sales up 30 percent from last year at this time. In a strategy similar to Paramount, the supplier's “Saturday Night Live” releases are strong sellers among the young-male demo, while its kidvids — many drawn from TV — deliver children (and, of course, moms). According to Nielsen VideoScan, TV DVD accounts for 24 percent of Lions Gate's year-to-date unit sales.

Warner Home Video, which includes HBO Home Video, was quick to get into the category and is the 2005 market-share leader in both TV DVD and overall disc sales. HBO's “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City” continue to be embraced by fans and purchased by those who did not subscribe to premium cable. Friends: The Complete Ninth Season holds the No. 4 spot in overall TV DVD unit sales so far this year. TV DVD sales account for 19 percent of Warner's year-to-date unit sales, according to Nielsen data.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is the No. 3 player in the market, with 11.8 percent of TV DVD unit sales. Fox's TV DVD unit sales so far this year are up 33 percent from the comparable period last year and account for 15 percent of the studio's overall DVD sales.

Fox hit gold with the recently resurrected “Family Guy” and this month is releasing a direct-to-video feature based on the quirky animated series. Meanwhile, The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season is No. 3 on Nielsen VideoScan's national DVD sales chart for the week ended Aug. 21.

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