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Show Looks Toward Blu

24 Jun, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Taking center stage at 27th Entertainment Merchants Association confab through June 26 at the Palms Hotel and Casino is today's Opening Business Session, where a panel of industry leaders will discuss the forthcoming consumer transition from standard DVD to Blu-ray Disc.

During the session “Moving Forward and Building Growth,” industry players will share their views on how the next-generation format provides a superior entertainment experience and what needs to be done to ensure widespread embrace by consumers. Speaking at the session are Mike Dunn, worldwide president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; Jim Keyes, chairman and CEO of Blockbuster Inc.; James McQuivey, VP and principle analyst with Forrester Research Inc.; and Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, VP of corporate development and GM of the Blu-ray Disc Group at Panasonic Corp. of North America.

The session also features a demonstration by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment of the new BD Live technology, which connects a Blu-ray player to the Internet thereby allowing users access to additional content, games and e-commerce opportunities from studios.

Bo Andersen, president of the EMA and producer of the show, said the significance of Keyes, Dunn and Tsuyuzaki together on the panel underscored the importance studios, hardware manufacturers and retailers play in launching Blu-ray.

“Getting Panasonic's participation represents a three-way partnership in the rollout of Blu-ray,” Andersen said. “Hardware must have a huge role in the successful development of the format.”

He said he hoped the panel addressed industry plans to better educate consumers about the benefits Blu-ray. Andersen said efforts thus far have been lacking. He implored the studios and representatives from consumer electronics retailer Circuit City, Blockbuster Inc., Target and others meet at the show and hammer out a strategy.

“Development of a real ‘Got Blu?' consumer campaign is definitely needed,” Andersen said.

The EMA found that DVD represented 49% of consumer movie spending in 2007, according to its 2008 Annual Report. Home video generated $15.9 billion in sales and $8.2 billion in rentals.

The report also states more than 9 million high-def discs were sold in 2007, representing more than $260 million in consumer spending. Sales of Blu-ray by 2012 are projected to overtake standard DVD and generate revenue of $9.5 billion.

Video game sales in 2007 surged 34% to $8.6 billion, according to the report.

The top DVD seller in 2007 is listed as Happy Feet, with The Departed topping the rental charts. High School Musical 2 was the best-selling TV DVD title, and 300 was the top high-definition movie disc.

Blockbuster Inc. was found to be the top traditional DVD rental channel, representing 73% of the rental business. Netflix Inc. accounted for 25% market share, followed by kiosks with 2%. There were about 10,000 DVD rental kiosks in operation by the end of 2007.

Overall home video spending is projected to increase to $25.6 billion by 2012.

Joe Fuller, EVP of marketing with Flexplay Entertainment LLC, said Blu-ray remained in the distant future as the Atlanta-based distributor of no-return DVD rentals focuses on shoring up distribution channels for standard DVD.

“We're here to catch up with our studio partners and give them an update [on the Staples launch] and continue discussions with studios that have not come on board yet,” Fuller said.

Flexplay currently distributes titles from New Line, Paramount, Starz and Warner.

Hoping to expand distribution of his line of instructional dancing standard DVDs, Shawn Trautman is attending his first EMA confab. The Dunedin, Fla.-based instructor, who markets 25 titles (country, line, Latin, swing and ballroom), is in Las Vegas to meet with distributors (Arts Alliance America, Active, etc.) and find additional vendors.

“We want to go to go to as many as possible, meet with customers and get a feel for the industry,” Trautman said.

A 20th Century Fox Entertainment representative said he was looking forward to meeting with customers and “keeping them happy.” He said the suites work perfectly for one-on-sessions.

A representative from disc replication company Cinram International, who was attending his 25th EMA, said getting to the show from his hotel could be problematic since he had been relocated to The Rio across Flamingo Boulevard.

“It's a 45-minute walk in 100 degree heat,” he said.

A show representative said attendees staying at The Rio did not have to walk as a shuttle service to and from the Palms is available.

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