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VSDA's Home Entertainment Show Draws Kudos From Attendees

16 Jul, 2004 By: Thomas K. Arnold

VSDA's Home Entertainment 2004 ended with exhibitors and attendees applauding the businesslike atmosphere the show has taken on since its restructuring two years ago.

“I think the energy is really back,” said Kate Winn, VP, video sales and marketing, for A&E Television Networks. “Two years ago it was kind of depressing, but now the studios are back and the retailers are back. Most of our major customers are here.”

“I brought my whole sales staff of 10 people, and we set up more than 70 meetings,” added Dan Gurlitz, VP of Koch Entertainment. “This show more than paid for itself.”

Indeed, if there was a prevailing theme at this year's show, it was that a lot of familiar faces were back. Seen roaming the halls were such key retailers as George Scarlett, chief merchant for Tower Records and Video; Bo Loyd, EVP of product management for Movie Gallery; and Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. And while just one studio president, Stephen Einhorn of New Line Home Entertainment, appeared on a panel, most of his brethren were also in Las Vegas, meeting with key accounts, including presidents Tom Lesinski of Paramount, Mike Dunn of Fox and Ben Feingold of Columbia TriStar.

“The show has become much more serious than in the days when people used to come for T-shirts and pictures of the stars,” noted Dennis Hedlund of Kultur, who has been at every VSDA convention since the first one in Dallas in 1982. “And that's a good thing. People are very concerned about the industry.”

Attendance figures aren't in, but VSDA executives said there was a significant uptick in last-minute registrations. Most sources peg attendance well in excess of last year, when there were about 4,000 attendees.

“It's been marketed well,” said VSDA president Bo Andersen.

Show organizers said there were 183 exhibitors, up from 140 last year, and that 60 of them were new to the show. Among the newcomers is a cadre of independent niche DVD suppliers who specialize in everything from reggae videos to exploitation films; as one attendee put it, “the convention is becoming almost like a film market.”

It was in 2002 that the convention, faced with years of declining attendance and studio discontent about expenses, was remade. The big show floor with its massive studio booths, some costing as much as $1 million to erect and staff, was eliminated, with exhibitors stationed in hotel suites for either open or closed meetings. This year, a small show floor was brought back, but most studios and DVD suppliers were stationed in suites.

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