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TV DVD: New Year Rings In With TV Deluge

5 Jan, 2004 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Studio release schedules for January and February are crowded with TV DVD packages, as home video marketers eye the millions of new DVD players sold over the holiday season and hope those long winter nights will lead to high demand for complete-season sets.

“The first quarter is typically a weak period for feature films, so TV shows can become an event,” said analyst Tom Adams of Adams Media Research.

“Part of it is that with the success of TV shows on DVD in general, there's naturally a rush by everyone to come out with more,” Adams said.

According to the TV Shows on DVD Web site, more than 50 releases are on tap for January, including such high-profile series as “Friends” (season six is coming Jan. 27), “Lost in Space” (season one is due Jan. 13), “Babylon 5” (season four arrives in stores Jan. 6) and “The Shield” (season two, also Jan. 6).

Gord Lacey, the Web site's operator, isn't surprised at the deluge.

“In wintertime, people are less likely to go outdoors and they have more time to spend in front of the TV,” he said. “Plus, it's right after Christmas, and there are a lot more people with DVD players, looking for titles to buy.”

One of the biggest TV DVD promotions this month is MGM Home Entertainment's doubleheader of two legendary 1960s sitcoms.

The Best of Mister Ed DVD Collection Volume 1 and The Green Acres Season 1 DVD Collection will arrive in stores Jan. 13 at $29.98 each.

“Mr. Ed” bowed on network TV in 1961 and ran for six seasons. It was produced by comic legend George Burns and won a Golden Globe as best TV series in 1963.

MGM's two-disc best-of package includes 21 episodes from the first three seasons.

“Green Acres” aired from 1965 until 1969. The MGM package, also a double-disc set, includes all 32 episodes from the first season.

“We felt January was the perfect time to introduce two of TV's most famous franchises to an installed base [of DVD households] that broadens by the month -- to include older adults who grew up with and loved these two classics,” said Alex Carloss, SVP of marketing for MGM Home Entertainment.

Carloss believes the “Green Acres” package might get an extra boost from the hoopla surrounding the Fox Television Network's “A Simple Life” reality show, in which two rich kids are sent out to live with a rural farm family for five weeks.

“It's a wonderful thing, how the concept is being rejuvenated,” Carloss said.

Analyst Adams said boxed sets of popular TV shows have become increasingly lucrative over the last year -- and from the studios' standpoint are helping fill the void left by the demise of the rental-priced videocassette.

“The biggest of these titles now do what decent feature films do, breaking into the seven figures, unit-wise,” he said.

“And with the price higher, it's almost like selling VHS in the old days at $79.95, just selling a million of them -- or more.”

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