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They're Classics

9 Jun, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

TV DVD suppliers are doing a healthy business on shows that have been off the air for a decade or more.

At Warner Home Video, overall TV DVD sales are up 30% so far this year. With sales down on feature films on DVD, “the TV category is propping up the whole catalog,” president Ron Sanders said at the recent Fifth Annual Home Entertainment Summit: DVD's Nine Lives Conference.

The conference was sponsored by Home Media Retailing with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and The Hollywood Reporter.

Increasing sales of classic TV shows are a big part of Warner's TV DVD boost, he said.

Warner's top sellers in the TV category so far this year, according to Nielsen VideoScan charts, are from recent shows such as “Friends,” “Gilmore Girls,” “The O.C.” and “The West Wing.”

But complete-season releases of such 1980s comedies as “Full House,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Growing Pains” are peppering the studio's top TV DVD sellers chart this year.

Universal is the undisputed leader in classic TV programming. A healthy 58% of the studio's top 100 TV sellers of the year are from series that have been off the air for more than 10 years. Every decade is represented — 1950s shows like “Leave It to Beaver;" “The Munsters” and "Dragnet" from the 1960s; 1970s series “Kojak” and “The Rockford Files”; and 1980s shows “The A-Team,” “Knight Rider,” “Magnum P.I.,” “Miami Vice” and “Northern Exposure.”

The highest-ranked classic TV show for Universal is Northern Exposure: Season Four, sitting at No. 5 on its TV DVD chart.

The reason for the success is simple, said Gord Lacey, editor of TVShowsOnDVD.com.

“[People] find comfort knowing they can come home after a long day at the office and pop in their favorite episode of their favorite show,” Lacey said. “They may not always watch them, but they can boast about owning every episode of ‘Star Trek' — all five series — that has aired on TV.”

More than 20% of the top-selling TV DVDs in 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's library are from classic programs. DVD sets for “Hill Street Blues,” “M*A*S*H” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” are the best-selling classic titles for the studio so far this year, with releases like Remington Steele: Season Three and In Living Color: Season Four moving up the chart.

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment's TV DVD top-sellers list is mostly dominated by kids' product, but the supplier is methodically cranking out releases from popular shows of the past: “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Cheers,” “Hogan's Heroes,” “I Love Lucy” and “MacGyver.”

Since its May 6 release, I Love Lucy: Season Six has outsold three of the studio's “South Park” complete-season sets already in the market, as well as the Jackass Boxed Set, Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season and Star Trek: Fan Collective — Borg, released in March of this year.

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