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Retail Pulse: Now Showing On Your PSP

20 May, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

Home Media Retailing regularly polls members of its editorial advisory board on key industry issues. This week, we asked retailers for their take on the studios releasing movies on the Universal Media Disc (UMD) for viewing on Sony's hot new PlayStation Portable (PSP).

Gary Arnold, SVP, entertainment, Best Buy
The mobile gaming and movie-watching opportunity is taking on a “must-have” status, as consumers are buying not only games but also movies at rates far exceeding our original expectations. It is being embraced by consumers at an unprecedented pace.

Bill Bryant, VP, sales, Ingram Entertainment
PSP hardware has generated significant demand for UMD software. Many retailers have found that a number of customers purchasing UMD software already (or will) own the same movie on DVD. Consumers purchasing PSP hardware aggressively purchase and/or rent UMD product, and this is no surprise. What this creates is a real opportunity for incremental sales at retail. There is a lot of enthusiasm about the hardware, and there is no question as to the quality of the PSP unit.

Adrian Hickman, manager, TLA Video
PSP is a curious situation. Since the launch of the system will obviously see a lot of software sales, it will be interesting to see how movies on UMD place in the sales ratio. Since this is a personal unit, the reasons for viewing a movie will be different from a DVD or VHS. This looks to be designed for on-the-go, commuting, relaxing out of the home, etc. At some point, I think rental comes into play, but I think it will be a more specialized rental, for the user who won't have another option. It may be the perfect item to offer for rental or sale at an airport or train station, since it can be comfortably viewed in transit and probably has better power management than a laptop. As for in-store rental, unless there is a specific reason, I would still think the sales/rental option would lean toward DVD, but that may change if PSP is successful. In the end, my only real concern is preserving the right to rent them if they make sense to my business. Now, if it can be hooked up to the family TV, that changes the picture.

Steve Hicks, VP, product, Hastings Entertainment
The potential for PSP to become a driver for movie sales and rentals depends on whether or not a home device will be introduced, or some type of add-on accessory that allows it to be played back through a standard TV set. This may be counter to its whole proposition as a device for handheld entertainment, but it will need this option if it is to gain widespread acceptance as a driver for movies.

Bo Loyd, EVP, product management; CAO, Movie Gallery
As with any new platform, content is always going to be the driving factor for whether or not people adopt a new technology. I suspect that as more content is made available, more units are sold in the marketplace and the price of UMD movies remains competitive to a DVD movie, then the PSP will continue to gain popularity as a portable movie player. The great thing about the PSP is that the picture quality is excellent, and the PSP is sleek and lightweight enough that it could replace portable DVD players, especially for the avid traveler.

Rick Timmermans, director of video merchandising, Tower Records and Video
We have been very pleased with the initial sales of the UMDs for the PSP. Tower plans to fully support the format, and I hope the studios provide adequate content. Whether it will be a driver or supplemental format is still in question. However, Tower will cover the titles and merchandise them in high-traffic areas in each store location. Success, of course, will depend to a large degree on the studios providing necessary title and marketing support, particularly with the movies.

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