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Title Contraction Paring Disc Sales?

29 Jul, 2010 By: Stephanie Prange

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group released first-half numbers last month showing packaged-media sales had dropped 3% in the second quarter which, after factoring in a steep first-quarter shortfall, resulted in a 7.1% drop in sales for the first half.

Certainly the economy is hitting disc sales, albeit less drastically than it did in Q1. But it may also be the title count that is hurting the sellthrough business. For the first half, the number of DVD releases fell by about 1,000 titles, according to The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, put together by editor Ralph Tribbey. While half of that shortfall can be attributed to the special interest category, the rest includes core catalog and new-release titles. Meanwhile, Blu-ray title counts aren’t picking up enough to fill in that hole. The count of Blu-rays is up 18.4% for the first half, or a year-over-year gain of just 90 titles, according to the report.

“It appears that as long as the economic numbers continue to be dismal, so too will be the [inventory] counts for both Blu-ray and DVD as suppliers pick and choose what gets released,” reads the report.

The chicken-and-egg proposition is: Which is hurting disc sales more, consumers unwilling to buy or the fact that there are fewer titles from which to choose?

The picture gets clearer when looking at exactly which kinds of titles are in short supply. The theatrical catalog release pace slid 32.1% in the first half, according to the report. Many of the other categories either held their ground or grew in title count.

It seems apparent that consumers are not opting to replace their catalog DVDs with Blu-ray and that many already have collected those older titles they most desired. For many, DVD may be good enough for many titles in their collection.

I’ve written before the Blu-ray had a hard act to follow in DVD, which reaped the benefit of the first real shot at selling the studios’ rich catalog. VHS was never highly collectible in the way DVD was, and Blu-ray — while better still than DVD — is facing a tougher economy and DVD-library exhaustion.

Considering the headwinds, disc sales are pretty strong, showing consumers’ continued interest in owning the content they love the most.

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