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'Teletubbies' First DVD Release Shows Mainstream Growth of the Format

31 May, 2001 By: Kurt Indvik

DVD has reached the mainstream, even among toddlers.

Warner Home Video is releasing the firs-ever Teletubbies DVD with the hope it will score as big in this format as it has in the oldstandby, VHS.

Teletubbies: Baby Animals streets Aug. 28 (prebook July 31) at $19.98,complete with nearly 40 minutes of extra features for children and parents. They include a musical montage, interviews with the Teletubbies series creators and four live-action features with baby animals.

"This is a first for Teletubbies and I can’t think of a better franchise to start with," says George Parker, director of familyentertainment marketing for Warner. "It is so well known to parents."

Warner does have other children’s titles on DVD, such as Scooby-Doo’sOriginal Mysteries and Powerpuff Girls: The Mane Event. But Baby Animals is Warner’s first preschool-targeted title to hit the DVD rack.

The rapid rate at which households nationwide are adopting DVD proves there is a need for more of this format.

"It makes sense at this point in time to start bringing more DVD titles into the market," Parker says. "We would like to lead with our best foot forward and Teletubbies is a perfect match."

Warner isn’t the first to venture into the DVD realm with children’s titles.

DVD sales totals are up 183% from last year at this time,according to data from VideoScan. The family and kids sector is up 210% during the same time period. Year to date, three family andchildren’s titles have hovered in VideoScan’s Top 20: Dinosaur (No. 5),The Emperor’s New Groove (No. 12) and Lady and Tramp II (No. 15) — all from Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

Children’s video has hopped onto the DVD bandwagon, despite early notions that the DVD players were too complex or sophisticated for young children to operate. Soon after the early adopters eagerly embraced the format, families wanted the same extra value extras on titles for their children.

Lyrick Studios debuted Barney’s Let’s Play School! as Barney’s first DVD in summer 1999 and has followed that success with numerous other purple dinosaur DVDs.

"We thought we needed to show what the medium can do for the product," said Lyrick’s former c.e.o. Tim Clott in 1999.

"We wanted to be the first in the market. We’ve always thought it was a perfect market for kids’ media," Dan Merrell, Lyrick’s director ofproduct marketing, said last fall.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s presence in 2001’s Top 20 list fromVideoScan is a measure of the company’s dedication to children’s DVDs.

"We believe as the DVD market expands away from only the early adopters, it’s important for us to provide programming kids and familieswill enjoy," says Bob Chapek, president of Buena Vista HomeEntertainment.

Warner plans a yearlong national advertising campaign to support the new Teletubbies release, complete with ads in parenting publications and a $5 rebate offered to consumers who buy Baby Animals and another Teletubbies titles. Cross promotions include promoting the rebate offer on 500,000 Teletubbies Valentine’s Day card packages from American Greetings.

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