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Sellthrough Video Spending Grew 23 Percent in February

24 Mar, 2005 By: Judith McCourt

February consumer sellthrough spending soared on the wings of box office strength. Consumers spent $1.32 billion at the sales counter in February, 23 percent more than they spent in the same four-week period last year, according to Home Media Research estimates.

Overall unit sales for the month were up 16 percent, according to Nielsen VideoScan data. Mass merchant, discount and grocery channels carved out the biggest portion of the pie, with unit sales from those channels accounting for almost 80 percent of all product sales.

The box office punch of the February release slate was the fuel behind the uptick. Big-screen power of the February debs registered $659 million, up 36.9 percent from the $481.5 million packed by the 2004 releases for the same month. That theatrical strength, however, failed to ignite rentals, which dropped 6.9 percent in February (HMR, March 20), underscoring that many consumers prefer to own rather than rent.

DVD sales clocked in at $1.27 billion and accounted for the lion's share (96 percent) of the monthly tally, according to Home Media Research estimates. By comparison, in the same four-week period in 2004, consumers spent $956.5 million on new disc sales. February 2005 DVD unit sales were up 23.4 percent, according to Nielsen VideoScan data.

Shark Tale, DreamWorks Home Entertainment's comedic animated feature, was the top seller for the month. Released Feb. 8, the $160.8 million box office hit sold more than 8 million video units — generating $145.86 million in sales — in the United States in its first three weeks on the retail shelves, according to Home Media Research projections. Sales were almost exclusively in the disc format (93.9 percent), reflecting the erosion of the cassette market even in a last bastion of strength — kidvid.

Cassette sales finished the month at $52.58 million, up from the $42.77 million spent in January, but off 53 percent from sales in February 2004. VHS sales received a bump from the top two category sellers, Shark Tale and Mulan II (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), a DTV sequel to Mulan. Combined unit sales from these two titles accounted for 14 percent of all cassettes sold in February, according to Nielsen VideoScan data.

Warner Home Video, which includes New Line Home Entertainment and HBO Video, was the market share leader in February, staking a claim to 19.8 percent of the dollars spent by consumers at retail. The supplier finished at the top of the heap in both DVD and VHS sales, with an estimated 96 percent of its sales coming from discs. New Line's The Notebook was Warner's top finisher in February, selling an estimated 2.88 million DVD units, according to Home Media Research estimates. The Notebook, which generated $81 million at the box office, added an estimated $56.29 million from February DVD sales.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment finished in the No. 2 spot with 14.9 percent of the overall sellthrough take. Its top seller for the month was Mulan II, which sold an estimated 2.3 million units and generated retail sales of $51.6 million in February.

Rounding out the top five sellthrough market share players were Universal Studios Home Entertainment (12.2 percent), DreamWorks Home Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, each with 10.2 percent of the February market share.

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