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HIVE EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH: Retailers Cut Copy Depth in May as DVD Rental Grew

15 Jun, 2001 By: Judith McCourt

Video retailers appeared to be cutting their copy depth on top rental titles in May to get more bang for their buck, while DVD rental spending continued to explode.Combined VHS and DVD rental spending dropped in May, with VHS taking the biggest hit while DVD rental spending managed to offset much of the VHS deficit.

Warner Home Video’s Miss Congeniality was renters’ hands-down favorite forthe month, helping Warner wrest the No. 1 monthly market share spot fromUniversal Studios Home Video for the first time this year.Combined rental spending for the month came to $626.13 million, down 4.5% from the $655.41 million spent in May of 2000. VHS rental spendingslid to $554.12 million, a 12.2% drop from the $631.15 million spent in May last year.

For the month of May, DVD rental spending came in at $72 million and accounted for 11.5% of dollars spent at the rental counter, up from3.7% of total rental dollars in the same month last year.Heading to the halfway point for the year, consumers have spent $3.69 billion at the rental counter, up from $3.37 billion at the same point in2000.

Periodic surveys of video retailers, conducted by Video Store Magazinemarket research, suggest that retailers are beginning to adjust their purchasing patterns in favor of less copy depth and are getting more turns out of each copy.A comparison of the top performing 25 rental titles from 2001 against the basket of top 25 rentals for May last year shows that the average numbers of copies in inventory for these heavyweights dropped from 21.2 to 19.2, a 9.4% decline. What’s more, a look at the rental activity on the same crop of titles shows the turns per copy — a benchmark of profitability — jumped from9.9 to 12.1, a 22% increase from the four comparable weeks last year.

Warner, which includes New Line Home Video and HBO, replaced Universal as the market share champ for May, thanks to a strong slate of titles and Warner’s strength in the DVD arena. Warner owned six of the top 25 rentalslots in May, with three releases cracking the top 10.Miss Congeniality reigned as the top rental choice for the month. Alsodriving the studio to a first place finish were Space Cowboys (No. 3) andLittle Nicky (No. 6).

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment had a strong showing in May, claiming18.7% of rental turns for the month. Among the top finishers for the studio were Finding Forrester (No. 4) and All the Pretty Horses (No. 10). Buena Vista Home Entertainment, the umbrella for Miramax, Dimension, Hollywood, Touchstone and Disney video releases, placed third in the May market share sweeps with 17.3% of the rental turns. The Emperor’s New Groove (No. 5) fared the best of the Buena Vista slate.Other May Disney favorites were Bounce (No. 8), Remember the Titans (No. 15) and 102 Dalmatians (No. 17).Paramount Home Entertainment and Universal finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in studio market share in May.

Dramas were the genre of choice with renters for the second consecutive month. Top renting drama for the month was Finding Forrester.Comedies finished a close second with 33% of the rental turns for May. Three finished in the top 10 rentals. Warner’s Miss Congeniality was the top tummy tickler; Paramount’s What Women Want (No. 2) and New Line’s Little Nicky (No. 6) were runners-up.

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