You can thank Netflix for helping the home entertainment industry to report the coulda-been-worse numbers for video sales and rentals in Q3. Total consumer spending, at $3.97B, was up 0.05% vs the period last year — even though, The Digital Entertainment Group notes, theatrical revenues for the releases were down 6.4% from last year. Still, the numbers show a $13.5M shift from high-margin sales to low-margin rentals: Total sales (including discs and electronic sellthrough) fell 7.4% to $1.72B while rentals (again, physical and electronic) were up 16.5% to $1.06B. Optimists will find comfort in the digital data. Spending on subscription streaming was +33.1% to $815.2M. That’s probably almost all Netflix; DEG doesn’t include subscription VOD that’s “bundled with other services,” which would knock out Amazon Prime. Studios also should be encouraged by the growth of electronic sellthrough: +46.4% to $273.9M. That’s an acceleration from the quarter last year (+37.7%) and in 2011 (+12.8%). VOD spending at $468M was up 2.8%, a slow down from last year when it was +8.5%. Results continue to look dismal for discs, though.
The data out today from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group may suggest that the period of steep declines in home video spending — largely driven by the collapse of the DVD market — is over. But it also may just reflect the fact that the quarter had more popular movies: Films available on home video in the quarter did 12.5% better at the box office than did comparable releases last year. Whatever the reason, total sales of DVD and Blu-ray discs fell just 0.6% in Q1 to $2.06B; DEG says that Blu-ray now accounts for about a quarter of all disc sales. Throw in the $165M spent to buy digital files of movies and TV shows, and the sell-through market was up 0.5%. Digital vendors really showed their muscle in rentals. Spending on subscription streaming services such as Netflix was up 545.4% to $548.6M while digital VOD from providers including Apple’s iTunes was up 6.8% to $505.3M. Meanwhile, the rash of store closings at Blockbuster contributed to a 29.4% decline in rentals at bricks-and-mortar stores to $305M. And Netflix’s struggles with its DVD business helped to drive a 48.1% slide in subscription disc rentals to $348M. Bricks-and-mortar and subscription DVD rental services now individually do less business than pay TV’s VOD which was up 6.8% to $505.3M. Another winner: kiosk services led by Redbox. Their rocketed 30.1% to $523M. DEG says that consumers opened 2M UltraViolet accounts, …
Consumers spent $5.65B renting DVDs and Blu-ray discs in 2011, Rentrak says this morning citing data from its Home Video Essentials tracking service. That’s down 3.4% from 2010. But consumer defections from disc rentals appear to be accelerating. In the last three months of the year, rentals were -21.3% from the same period in 2010, as business at kiosks — including Redbox, which charges $1.20 a night — grew by 28%. “People have many choices when it comes to renting videos, for both digital and physical media, so it’s interesting to see DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals are still the number one choice for consumers,” said David Paiko, Vice President of Home Entertainment at Rentrak. The company says that Summit’s Red was the most rented title on DVD and Blu-ray at bricks-and-mortar stores, but it didn’t provide sales data.
EXCLUSIVE: Backers are ready to take a victory lap for their two-year Movies On Demand marketing campaign for cable built around the slogan: ”The Video Store Just Moved In.” But the evidence that they’re starting to circulate fails to demonstrate that they attracted lots of new rentals following their TV, print, and online sales pitches, which began last year with a $30M commitment. They point to figures from Rentrak that show cable subs viewed VOD more than 6.4B times in the first 10 months of this year, up 10.3% vs the same period last year. The problem? That figure isn’t just movie rentals — it also includes movies shown for free as well as TV shows. They also note that newcomers to VOD movies — people who hadn’t ordered one in at least three months — paid an average of $7.71 a week this past summer. That’s up 67% from the spring, and it’s “a massive increase since early 2010, when they weren’t spending at all” for VOD movies, says Char Beales, who oversees the Movies on Demand campaign. While she’s probably right, it doesn’t mean much because the group doesn’t tell us
The industry’s Digital Entertainment Group credits a 58% gain in spending on Blu-ray discs vs last year’s 3Q and a 12.8% pickup in electronic sell-though (to $135.9M) for much of the gain in 3Q consumer spending, to $3.93B. The 4.9% improvement in total sales was “a major milestone,” DEG says, because “this is the first time spending has increased since the first quarter of 2008, when the economic downturn began.” This also was the first time DEG broke out spending numbers for subscription streaming services such as Netflix, formerly folded into the tally for rentals: They accounted for $255.4M in the quarter and $463.6M for the first half of 2011. But the results show that DVD sales continue to plummet: The huge gains for Blu-ray weren’t sufficient to stop the decline packaged goods sales, down 4% to $1.74B. Over in the rentals, subscription services for discs — again, like Netflix — led the pack (+4.9% to $607.3M). But video-on-demand came in second (+4.9% to $419.9M), followed by kiosks (+23.3% to $414M) and bricks-and-mortar stores (-28.6% to $353M).
The online DVD and streaming rental provider which keeps announcing Big Media deal after deal also announced today that it now has 20 million subscribers and expects to have perhaps as many as 23 million by the end of 2011′s first quarter. But the real news is that Netflix blew past Wall Street’s forecasts with its 2010′s fourth-quarter profits jumping 52% with earnings of $47M (compared to $31M a year ago). Revenue rose 34% to $596M.
Blockbuster made it official today, filing its long expected Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with a line of creditors that includes its product suppliers like Fox, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros and Disney. It seems unfathomable that given Blockbuster’s supremacy at one time–think of all the mom and pop video stores that went out of business when Blockbuster set up shop nearby–the corporation could not have been more forward thinking. It could have owned the VOD and rental by mail space dominated by Netflix, and it got its head handed to it by Coinstar’s Redbox, which offered the same DVDs in supermarket kiosks for 25% of the rental prices charged by Blockbuster. Its forays into those areas came too late because they were locked into the brick and mortar game plan. While Carl Icahn is reportedly buying up Blockbuster debt and somebody might take a shot at resurrecting Blockbuster and its $1 billion in assets, it might well be too late to establish itself in VOD and as a buyer of pay TV rights for films, as Netflix is now doing at a fraction of the costs incurred by Blockbuster to maintain its 3000 stores. It’s a cautionary tale about standing pat when the sand is shifting under your feet, and Blockbuster’s woes are similar to those being felt by brick and mortar bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble. They’re also hard pressed to compete with web rivals like Amazon, serving up both paper books and e-titles without having to pay rent, …