In just more than a year, the mastering of TV series onto DVD collectors packages has exploded into a business worth hundreds of millions. Here is a loosely ordered look at 10 shows that have found their demos on DVD.
(Fox) 3 seasons
Why: The first two seasons on DVD of this seminal animated series grossed nearly $80 million in sell-through revenue, according to Adams Media Research.
The Family Guy (Fox)
Why: Never a broad Nielsen hit like “The Simpsons,” irreverent animated family comedy has been one of 2003’s top-selling DVD franchises, having sold 600,000 units, according to studio sources.
The X-Files (Fox)
Why: The first network TV series to be given the full-season DVD treatment, cult-beloved men-in-black franchise has generated over $40 million in revenue, according to Adams, and helped blow the lid off a small conspiratorial product niche and turn it into a consumer phenomenon.
The Sopranos (HBO)
Why: Launching Oct. 28, the fourth season continues a franchise that’s grossed more than $130 million so far in DVD sales, according to Adams. Of course, like “Sex and the City,” “Six Feet Under” and the upcoming “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” being on a pay channel that everybody talks about but not everybody subscribes to makes the DVD an offer many consumers can’t refuse.
Band of Brothers (HBO) Miniseries
Why: Priced at $119.98 a pop, specially packaged DVD release of WWII docudrama captured $85 million in sales.
Sex and the City (HBO)
Why: With the fifth season arriving Dec. 30, popularity on DVD has generated over $66 million in sales, Adams says, augmenting nicely recent aftermarket TV sales of nearly $100 million. That’s a lot of fancy designer shoes.
Why: They’re most successful TV franchise in the format, industryites say the complete fourth season has sold 875,000 units so far this year. Warner also has big expectations for another NBC series, “The West Wing,” launching its first season on DVD Oct. 21.
Star Trek (Paramount)
Why: Through seven full-season releases of “Next Generation,” five seasons of “Deep Space Nine” and 40 individual-episode releases of the original series, Paramount says venerable sci-fi series has boldly gone past the 3 million units sold mark on DVD. “Next Gen” alone has grossed nearly $47 million in sell-through, Adams says.
The Civil War (PBS)
Why: Ken Burns’ seminal documentary made enough on DVD — $9 million in sales, according to Adams — to almost fund the Reconsruction, adjusting for inflation, of course.
The Osbournes (Buena Vista)
Why: Miramax shelled out $7 million for the vid rights to this MTV real-family phenomenon. And distributor Buena Vista Home Entertainment sold 600,000 first-season DVD copies in just a few days of release.