Friday Street Date? Shelve It9 Oct, 2014 By: Mark Fisher, Entertainment Merchants Association
Recently some in the music industry have started talking about a uniform worldwide Friday street date for all album and singles releases. To get out in front of this issue, now’s the time to say that a standard Friday street date would be bad for home video and video games, and any consideration should be shelved straight away.
In the United States, street dates for music are usually on Tuesdays, just as they are for home video and for a number of video game titles. Music is released on different days of the week in other countries —Mondays in the United Kingdom and Fridays in Germany, for example.
According to the International Federal of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the international music industry organization, a uniform worldwide street date of Friday would benefit the music industry by allowing coordinated global promotional campaigns for new releases. It would be good for consumers, in IFPI’s view, by letting them know that wherever they are in the world the week’s new releases will be available just after midnight local time on Friday.
There may indeed be benefits to a uniform worldwide street date — and the Entertainment Merchants Association would be happy to have a dialogue about that — but Friday is a terrible choice for the day of the week.
“Why?” you might ask. “Movies release theatrically on Fridays quite successfully, and wouldn’t it make sense to have other entertainment products released just as the weekend is starting to attract consumer dollars to our industries?”
There are plenty of reasons:
• A Tuesday street date is operationally efficient and promotes a better in-stock position of new releases during the high-demand weekend, therefore maximizing both sales and profits. Retailers, distributors and content providers gauge consumer demand in the first couple days of release and have time to then ensure that retail stores are properly stocked for weekend sales. A Friday street date would mean that restocks would occur, if possible, during the weekend, incurring warehouse overtime, overnight shipments, and weekend shipping costs.
• A Friday street date doesn’t leave room for logistical errors. Digitally released titles are at risk of late onboarding and QC issues that can now be corrected before the peak weekend demand. In addition, making titles available well in advance of the weekend helps ensure that Internet capacity and capability aren’t taxed with consumers all downloading or streaming on Friday.
• Most of the largest retailers of home video and game products enjoy additional store traffic from the midweek street date and profit from sales of other non-video products purchased during store visits.
• Many independent specialist retailers also realize a surge of mid-week business, balancing their operational and labor costs through the week.
• A Friday street date would mean that the popular Sunday circulars would support only the following Friday and Saturday sales (that is, if the consumer keeps the ads around that long). And many mid-to-lower tier titles would never be promoted in weekly retail ads if that were to be the case and would, as a result, not warrant shelf space. The home video and video game industries cannot afford lower category productivity, which will ultimately lead to reduced shelf space and spiral sales further downward.
• If the music industry adopts Friday as a common street date, it is highly unlikely the home video and video game industries will follow. This will result in further inefficiencies in shipping — as movies, music and games often are shipped in the same cartons — and in increased costs in all three industries.
• Consumer confusion would likely result due to the many years of branding Tuesday as the new release day for all packaged media.
The Tuesday street date for music, home video and (to a lesser extent) video games has been the standard for years because it works. While the past has a vote, and not a veto, we should not abandon a successful practice unless the alternative is found analytically to be superior. A Friday street date is clearly not and should be summarily rejected.