Piracy hits DVD sales in France

Figures show a market decline of 11%

PARIS — DVD sales have fallen for the third consecutive year in France, according to preliminary data released by the French Digital Video Federation.

The advocacy group’s figures show a market decline of 11% in value and 10% in sales volume last year. Rough preliminary estimates put 2007 DVD sales at around 125 million units, down from more than 136 million in 2006.

According to org’s press release, France “was one of the few large European countries to announce such a negative trend in 2007.”

Since the beginning of 2005, the Gallic market has sustained a cumulative drop of almost 25% in value. This is despite a 6.6% drop in average DVD retail prices in the first nine months of 2007, from $18.14 to $16.93 per disc.

Federation general director Jean-Yves Mirski sees more than a few culprits behind the DVD industry’s losses in France.

“Piracy is the main reason. The French are the European piracy champions, both because of the extent of broadband concentration, and us being such a nation of cinephiles,” he said.

Mirski says increasing computer savvy as well as the younger generation’s better proficiency in English than older French generations, allowing them to enjoy English-language films without subtitles, has added to the problem.

The Federation head also blamed the sales slump on French law mandating a six-month window on DVD releases from cinema bows, compared to a European Union average of 4.5 months.

Other recent negative factors in Mirski’s view include fewer blockbusters, as well as the rapid proliferation of other cheap entertainment sources, especially DTT channels.

“The amount of alternatives is having huge consequences for our market,” he said. “We hope the growth in high-definition and Blu-ray DVD technologies will soon help us get back on track.”