Blu-ray friends Facebook to keep sales up

Studios, manufacturers back sweepstakes' launch this week

Although the home entertainment sector is still off 2% at $12.3 billion for the first three quarters of 2011, homevid divisions are embracing signs of sales growth as the holidays approach.

Third-quarter sales of all home-video titles in the U.S. totaled $3.9 billion, up 5% over a year ago — the first quarterly sales increase since 2008 — according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

The trade group reported Monday that Blu-ray generated $423 million during the three-month period, thanks to top sellers like”Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” “Thor,” “X-Men: First Class,” “Bridesmaids,” “Fast Five” and “Star Wars: The Complete Saga.”

Streaming, electronic sales and VOD grew 50% to $812 million during the quarter, with VOD alone earning $420 million, up 5%.

The rental biz still generated $607 million from subscription-based disc-by-mail services like Netflix, which grew another 5%, and $414 million hauled via kiosk rentals from the likes of Redbox during the quarter. DVD sales were off 15% to $1.3 billion.

Overall, the sale of Blu-rays earned $1.23 billion for the first three quarters of the year, compared to $1 billion for the same period a year ago. Much of the uptick is still being attributed to “Avatar,” which sold 11 million units on Blu-ray. Before that film, titles generated 16% of their sales, on average, from the Blu-ray format. Now, it’s at around 25%, with many titles moving more than 50% on Blu-ray.

An estimated 52% of homes in the U.S. now own a Blu-ray player, representing 33.5 million households, the DEG said.

With Blu-ray sales up this year, the Digital Entertainment Group wants to keep the momentum going into the holidays and coax more consumers to buy rather than rent movies. As part of that effort, it has enlisted Hollywood and the consumer electronics biz to launch the largest social media campaign for the format through Facebook.

More than 100 Facebook pages will launch a “Win big with Blu-ray” sweepstakes that will “educate movie lovers on the benefits of Blu-ray home entertainment,” the DEG said.

Bert Kreischer, host of Travel Channel’s “Bert the Conqueror,” is serving as spokesman for the sweepstakes, in which winners will be awarded a Blu-ray prize pack each week. Kreischer and the DEG produced three short videos that will appear on participating partners’ Facebook pages.

Effort launches this week and runs through the next 15 weeks.

All of the major studios are taking part in the campaign, as are indie distribs, including Anchor Bay and Image Entertainment, and consumer electronics manufacturers like LG Electronics, Panasonic, Sony Electronics and Toshiba America Information Systems.

“The top 20 Hollywood film pages alone on Facebook have more than 250 million collective ‘likes,’ so by teaming up with more than 100 similar partners, we knew this could be one of the largest sweepstakes ever to be conducted on Facebook,” said Amy Jo Smith, DEG executive director. “Consumers are spending nearly eight hours per month on Facebook now. There’s no better way to tout the benefits of Blu-ray to engaged and receptive consumers across the country.”

Promotion is powered by Peer Squared, developers of the ShareAndTell Pro social sweepstakes and rewards platform. Homevid growth


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