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Warner Taps Martha for Lifestyle DVDs

28 Apr, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Martha Stewart is back home and headed for DVD.

Seeking to create a foothold in the relatively unexploited lifestyle section of the TV DVD genre, Warner Home Video (WHV) has signed a multiyear North American distribution deal with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO).

Under the agreement, WHV would package, market, sell and distribute up to 1,500 hours of the icon homemaker's “Martha Stewart Living” TV show and related programming on DVD beginning in the fourth quarter.

Stewart, who is on parole following release from prison on federal obstruction of justice and perjury convictions, will play an undetermined role in promotion of the DVD line.

“We think no one has been able to do a better job [marketing lifestyle content] than Martha,” said Mike Saksa, SVP of U.S. marketing with WHV. “Regardless of people's opinions of Martha, the content is exceptional.”

Saksa said projections of strong growth in TV DVD programming over the next five years coupled with high consumer awareness and purchase interest in Stewart and related products convinced WHV to replicate the studio's tactic in marketing NBA, NFL and NHL sports properties.

“We are going to approach this the same way we acquired the three sports leagues,” Saksa said. “We are going to go to retail and deliver lifestyle sections with Martha being the lead brand in that section.”

WHV plans to “ramp up very quickly” with retailers by scheduling “a significant number” of Stewart releases on a monthly basis.

“We want to make ‘Martha Stewart Living' a destination,” Saksa said.

Susan Lyne, president and CEO of MSLO, said she expects WHV to deliver the brand to as many DVD players as possible.

MSLO could use the business. Declines in TV merchandise and online businesses resulted in MSLO posting a slightly lower first-quarter (ended March 31) loss of $19.17 million, compared to a loss of $19.48 million during the same period last year.

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