Tube faves power U.S. DVD sales

TV discs pace homevid biz

LONDON — Americans spent $2.8 billion buying TV shows on DVD in 2004, up from just $160 million in 2000, making TV product the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. vid biz.

The TV DVD sector accounted for 18% of the U.S. disc retail market last year, according to new figures from Adams Media Research and Screen Digest.

Growth in Western Europe is just as robust, with spending on TV DVDs up to $2.1 billion in 2004.

In the U.K., the worldwide pacesetter for this emerging sector, TV discs accounted for nearly 30% of all DVD purchases.

Prior to the advent of DVD, TV product had a negligible share of the video market in the U.S. and most European countries. Only viewers in the U.K. and France had an established habit of buying TV shows on VHS.

“In economic terms, this trend has been the equivalent for the Hollywood studios of striking oil in one’s own backyard, as they discovered lucrative new vehicles for exploiting brands they already own,” according to the Screen Digest report.

TV channeling the future

Adams and Screen Digest predict that TV product will outpace the rest of the DVD market for the foreseeable future, with U.S. business estimated to reach $4.4 billion in 2009 and Western Europe showing slower growth to $2.6 billion.

TV product on DVD typically retails for a higher price than features. Women and older consumers make up a disproportionately large slice of TV disc buyers, with the sector credited for broadening the demographics of the DVD market.

American shows dominate the DVD market not just in the U.S. but in most Western European countries.

Domestic dominance

In the U.K., the entire all-time top 10 is British made. Nonetheless, the size of the market means that it is still the largest and most profitable international outlet for American TV product.

Comedy dominates the DVD charts in the U.S., the U.K. and France; in Germany and Italy, sci-fi heads the bestseller lists.

Surprisingly, there’s little correlation between TV ratings and DVD sales, since the buying demographic is markedly different from the viewing public. For the same reason, frequent broadcasts of a show do not damage its DVD sales.

According to Screen Digest-Adams analysis of Nielsen VideoScan data, the all-time U.S. bestseller as of the end of 2004 was “Friends,” with sales of $211 million, closely followed by “Sex and the City,” with $206.1 million. Next are “The Simpsons” with $199.7 million and “The Sopranos” with $198.5 million.

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