TV Flicks Outpull Rental Pix In Spain

Spanish homevid distribs and rental outlets, already struggling to compete with four new tv webs, saw havoc strike the video sector during the Christmas season.

First major result has been the canceling of Spain’s largest homevideo market, Ibervideo, which had been held in the last few years in Madrid during early February.

Over the yuletide season (which officially ended Jan. 8), Spain’s five tv webs (six channels in key cities such as Madrid and Barcelona) played 15 to 20 feature films, for which the webs had spent millions to acquire. Many were unspooling on Spanish tv for the first time.

Pics included “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “You Only Live Twice,” “Gandhi” and “The Hotel New Hampshire.”

A Television Espanola study shows that 49.2% of viewers tape more feature films now than they did before the entry of the private and regional webs.

According to Felipe Ortiz, prez of Videoman, which releases MGM/UA in Spain, “the situation is disastrous. Sales to rental outlets have dropped 60% since last September.” Gross sales by distribs to vid outlets in all of 1990 totaled some $138 million, compared with close to $200 million in 1989.

James Armstrong, financial manager of RCA/Col Video, agreed that sales were down “considerably” over the holiday season.

Though Ibervideo was canceled, homevid banners here are considering setting up a video symposium and get-together for professionals in March or April. Event would not include the market-type facilities that typified Ibervideo.

Ortiz estimated that about 5,000 to 6,000 tapes of blockbuster pics are being made in Spain, half the number being made a year ago. “As for smaller films, they don’t exist. Maybe we’d make 100 cassettes for B titles,” he said.

One of the pre-Christmas hopes nurtured by vid companies was that sell-through would blossom over the holidays. But the up-turn never materialized, and sell-through is expected to account for only 5% to 10% of revenue.

As many as 20% of Spain’s 5,000 or so video clubs have closed over the past year, and more are expected to follow suit this year.

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