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With TV Fare, Showtime Has No Time for VHS

4 Apr, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Showtime Entertainment is eliminating VHS from its TV product release slate. Most suppliers release TV titles only on DVD. But in the recent past, Showtime was still offering complete-season sets of popular serials like “Queer as Folk” both in disc and on tape. For the past couple of releases and going forward, Showtime TV series product will be DVD only, said Tony Lynn, SVP for Showtime's home entertainment division.

“We just weren't doing a lot of VHS business,” he said. It's obvious that DVD, with its smaller packaging and more collectible appeal, has driven, and will continue to drive, TV show video sales, Lynn said.

For now, Showtime will continue to release feature-film product on DVD and VHS, although disc orders make up 90 percent of the company's sales to retail, Lynn said.

“I think it's premature to say that VHS is over, but it's certainly on its way there,” he said. “As long as there's still some business there, we'll serve it.”

Showtime has been developing expertise in the serial TV DVD market over the past few years, and has been riding a wave of success on titles like the three “Queer as Folk” seasons, which have sold through more than 125,000 units each, Lynn said.And Showtime's The L Word: The Complete First Season has shipped 170,000 units to retail, he said.

Showtime expects its biggest TV DVD title to be the upcoming Fat Actress: The Complete First Season, which streets May 24 on DVD only.

Star Kirstie Alley had started making such big publicity waves about the show that it was rushed into production, resulting in a short seven-episode run for the first season, he said. “Fat Actress” had record ratings for its debut on the cable network.

And Showtime is rushing the “Fat Actress” first season set to DVD as well, while Alley is still making the talk-show rounds and the show is hot in entertainment news media coverage.

“Our decision was to take advantage of this sort of tidal wave of promotion and publicity, and bring the DVD to market as quickly as possible,” Lynn said. “We're really churning on that one.”

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