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Warner&#39;s <I>Harry</I> Puts a Spell on Market-Share Competitors

27 Jun, 2002 By: Judith McCourt

DVD continued to chip away at videocassette sales in May, accounting for 63.6 percent of units sold, according to Nielsen VideoScan data. By comparison in May 2001, VHS claimed 62.8 percent of the unit sales for the month.

Warner Home Video's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was the hands-down winner at the sales counter for May, a tremendous feat given its May 28 street date. Combined unit sales of the fantasy sold 2.3 times more than the next-closest finisher, Ocean's Eleven, also a Warner release.

Warner's heavy-hitting release schedule and sellthrough pricing handed it the market share sweep for May. The supplier dominated the sales counter, claiming 31.1 percent of unit sales, almost twice the next-closest finisher, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, which grabbed 15.6 percent of the total unit sales in May. Warner's product mix for the month -- two-thirds DVD, one-third VHS -- mirrored the overall market trend.

Thanks to Mr. Potter and gang, Warner claimed an easy win in VHS sales, with 29.1 percent of the unit tally. Potter was the top-selling cassette for the month and sold 50 percent more cassettes than second-place finisher Disney's Snow Dogs, which was released May 14. Warner's Ocean's Eleven placed No. 3 in cassette sales for May.

Potter also pulled its weight on the DVD side, selling 1.8 units for every unit of Ocean's Eleven, which finished No. 2 in disc sales for May. The final tally gave Warner a hefty 32.2 percent of disc sales for the month.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment's second-place finish was driven by the performance of Snow Dogs and The Others. Snow Dogs was the No. 3 overall seller in May, snagging the No. 2 spot on the VHS top-sellers chart and No. 4 spot for DVD. The Others also scored high with consumers, finishing No. 4 overall.

Buena Vista's product mix for the month reflects its heavy emphasis on family-oriented product, whose buyers still like VHS. In May, 45.5 percent of BVHE's overall unit tally came from cassettes, the highest of any of the major suppliers.

Placing a distant third in the May supplier race was Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, with 9.5 percent of the unit take. Its top performer at the sales counter was Ali, which finished No. 5 in DVD sales. In May, DVD unit sales accounted for an estimated 77 percent of Columbia's product mix.

Family titles topped the list as consumer favorites for May, with 21.9 percent of the unit tally thanks to Potter and Snow Dogs.The family-oriented market is changing, too, as DVD hits the mainstream consumer. In the past 12 months, sales of family titles in the DVD format have grown to 53 percent of the genre's tally, up from just 20 percent a year ago. Nontheatrical children's titles also have shown solid gains in the disc format. While just 22 percent of the genre's share comes from DVD sales, that's up from just 4 percent in May 2001.

Action/adventures and comedies slugged it out for second place. Ocean's Eleven and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Behind Enemy Lines gave the edge to actioners, which finished with 17.2 percent of the tally. Of total units bought by consumers in the action/adventure genre, a whopping 76 percent were in the DVD format, compared to an even 50 percent in the same month last year.

Comedies claimed 15.9 percent of unit sales. Of comedies purchased by consumers, 72 percent were discs, compared to 42 percent of the total in May 2001.

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