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Warner Home Video Inks Deal With NFL

13 Jan, 2003 By: Stephanie Prange

Warner Home Video has inked a three-year deal with the National Football League and NFL Films to market and distribute its videos.

The first release under the deal will be the Super Bowl XXXVII video, due Feb. 11, just 16 days after the game, the fastest turnaround ever for the championship title. The title will have an unprecedented three hours of programming.

NFL videos were previously released through the now-defunct USA Home Entertainment.

“We essentially talked to several major studios [to take over the deal],” said Peter Murray, NFL VP of partnership marketing and corporate sales. “Warner as an industry leader certainly has the marketing and distribution strength that meets our needs.”

The long-rumored deal comes after a fourth quarter in which the NFL “cleaned up” existing releases in the video marketplace to ready it for the new launch of the brand, Murray said.

“We wanted to go out strong with the Super Bowl video,” he said. “Our strategy was to announce a new relationship in 2003.”

He said the new deal also includes a new tactic: “Our strategy is releasing fewer original productions versus years past.”

In addition to the Super Bowl video, the NFL plans to release only two other original programs this year: a season kickoff release and a Thanksgiving release. The NFL also plans to release up to four multi-title collectors' sets this year.

Doug Wadleigh, VP of marketing at Warner Home Video, said the NFL came to the studio for its expertise.

“Warner is the only home video studio that has a dedicated marketing and sales team solely focused on nontheatrical product,” he said, adding the division wants to grow to be a “one-stop shop” for such product for retailers.

“I really think the challenge that sports videos have had in the past is that they have been treated like a commodity, sold as premiums with no branded marketing,” he said.

Warner plans to limit premiums and use them to encourage consumers to buy more videos. The studio also plans to spend millions marketing the titles directly to consumers, with “well over $1 million” allotted to the Super Bowl video alone, Wadleigh said.

In addition to traditional programming, the Super Bowl video will include content Warner consumer research found consumers wanted, such as nearly all the network coverage of the game.

Wadleigh said the studio is “absolutely interested” in more sports acquisitions and is in conversations with the National Basketball Association, which also previously had a deal with USA.

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