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Q Video Swings for the Fences With Pro Baseball

20 Jul, 2001 By: John Jimenez

QVC Inc. is launching its new video division, Q Video, with its newly acquired Major League Baseball (MLB) product line.

Major League Baseball Productions this year abandoned its professionalbrethren — the NFL, NBA and NHL—whose rights all reside with USA Home Entertainment, and signed on with QVC. QVC has worldwide rights to MLB’sfour to six new video releases per year as well as its entire catalog.

“This is just the kind of line that we wanted to start Q Video with,” says Don Spielvogel, director of sales and marketing for Q Records and Video.

The company passed on a lot of other options and began talks with MLB last October, he says. With MLB’s contract with USA, which haddistributed the line since 1998, coming to an end, Q Video saw an opportunity to court a successful brand name with a vast catalog.

“There were multiple companies that had shown interest” in acquiring MLB, says director of home video Chris Brande, but “Q interested us because of the multiple synergies it provides for baseball.”

Last year’s World Series video validated the sellthrough power of theline, Brande says, and MLB wanted to focus not only on retail sales, but also direct sales and direct marketing aimed at baseball fans. “Who’sbetter at direct sales than QVC?” he says.

Spielvogel says the QVC television network is a “very strong marketing tool” that should also help sales at retail.

Brande agrees. “Whenever a product is displayed in any way, it’s going to help retail,” he says.

QVC has an alliance with Warner/Elektra/Atlantic Corp. (WEA), through which the line will be distributed to retailers.

Meanwhile, QVC’s direct-response department, Q Direct, can direct salesand marketing to a specific region, which is key for a product like MLB that may decide to create a video about, say, the Cleveland Indians, which would have limited appeal outside Cleveland.

“We really want to exploit some of the local opportunities with some ofthe teams,” Brande says.

MLB has footage of every World Series since 1943, none of which has been released on DVD, Spielvogel says, as well as recent heroics likethe Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run race. There are also exciting opportunities forprojects like a “best bloopers of all time” compilation DVD, he says.

The first title released under the agreement, Hitters on Hitting, came out June 26 at $14.95 on VHS and $19.95 on DVD. The next release, Unhittable, is a title about no-hitters and perfect games, scheduled for October release on VHS and DVD.

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