A Maturing Market for Blockbuster

A Maturing Market for Blockbuster

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A Maturing Market for Blockbuster
Market growth slowed in 2004 and reached $31 billion, and it is forecast to decline slightly in 2005 to $30.2 billion, after averaging around $3 billion in annual increases between 2000 and 2003. Up to 2003, market advances were due to rising penetration of DVD hardware, however, as penetration reaches over 80% of households in 2005, and late hardware adopters purchase less software than early adopters, the market is maturing. Price declines are also contributing to slowed growth presently, but over the long term may be the key to driving demand and growth.
DVD sell-through carries majority of the market
In 2004 the sell-through category accounted for 63% of the market; DVD sales were 52% of the overall market, while VHS sales were 11%. The rental category makes up the remaining 37% of the entire market, with DVD accounting for 26% and VHS nearly 11%.

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These figures reflect the shift in the market away from VHS and rentals, and towards DVD and sell-through. As evidence of the strength of DVD, most mass merchandisers have discontinued sales of VHS.
Increases in hardware penetration drove sales
Hardware ownership remains the primary driver for sales and rentals of video software. VCR penetration has remained static at over 90% of households, while DVD player ownership (market-entry hardware now retails for as little as $40) quadrupled to 39% penetration from 2000-02 and nearly doubled to 72% in 2004. Home theater audio hardware penetration nearly doubled between 2001 and 2004, further encouraging home video viewing.
Demographic and economic factors positive for market
As DVD technology tends to be the domain of younger consumers, the fact that those aged 15-34 are projected to increase by nearly 7% between 2000 and 2010 has been and will continue to be a boon for the market. That ethnic youth are also forecast to increase in number is likewise positive, with ethnic consumers purchasing DVDs more frequently than white consumers.
The number of U.S. households with income above $75K has grown more rapidly than other household income groups, some 15.6% between 2001 and 2003, a boon for the industry as this group typically has the highest leisure expenditures including DVD ownership and purchase.
Tightly controlled supply stream
As the majority of video sales stem from theatrical release films, Hollywood studios control an overwhelming percentage of the market. Estimates for 2005 put over 93% of the supply structure under the control of eight studios: Warner Bros., Buena Vista (Disney), Universal (Vivendi), Fox, Columbia (Sony), Paramount, MGM (Sony), and Lion's Gate. This is virtually unchanged from 2003. Control of the market by this limited number of suppliers is expected to continue.
Suppliers foot advertising bills
The primary source of publicity for home video releases continues to be the advertising and promotional efforts by a studio for a title's theatrical release, and to a lesser extent for the title's DVD release. While video retailers spend considerable amounts on advertising, that amount still pales compared to that spent by studios. For example, according to Brandweek, Blockbuster spent $37 million total on advertising in 2004, compared to the over $30 million DreamWorks spent marketing the DVD release of Shrek II alone that same year. The average amount a studio spends on a high-profile home video title release is increasing annually, and may eventually near the amount studios spent on the theatrical release.
Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Blockbuster head distribution
According to Mintel's analysis of the results of the Simmons Fall 2004 NCS, over four in ten adults and teens shopped at Wal-Mart for purchases of DVDs, followed by electronics retailer Best Buy, where two in ten adults and teens shopped. Mintel's analysis of Simmons data finds that 72% of those responding report visiting mass merchandisers for video software purchases. Mass merchandisers are able to command a following because they offer software at loss-leader prices to generate consumer traffic—average sales price at mass merchandisers was $15 in Q4 2004, as compared to $18.50 at electronics stores, and over $20 at almost all other channels. Mass merchandisers also gain as a result of high levels of foot traffic—Mintel's research finds that four in ten respondents purchase DVDs or VHS on impulse.
Some 13% of those surveyed cite video specialist Blockbuster as a preferred location for DVD purchases. Blockbuster's popularity, however, is highest with younger respondents—among 18-24-year-olds, 22% purchased at Blockbuster, roughly equivalent to the percentage shopping at Best Buy.
Internet subscription rental service growing rapidly
In just one year (August 2004-July 2005), Blockbuster's online rental service has grown to 1 million subscribers. Its main online service competitor, Netflix, has 3 million subscribers; both online services are reported to have gained the same number of subscribers over the last year. Netflix forecasts subscriptions of 4 million by year-end 2005; estimates for Blockbuster are 1.5 million. Online subscriptions should bring in over $1 billion in sales in 2006, and account for some 10% of the entire rental market.
However, rental sales in general are down in 2005, dropping some 10% from 2004, from $11.5 billion to $10.3 billion. Declines in rental revenue prompted rental market leader Blockbuster to institute a no-late-fees policy, in 2005. Mintel finds that 43% of respondents rent from Blockbuster, but the brand has a stronger hold on 18-24-year-olds, 54% of whom rented from Blockbuster.
Three-quarters of consumers participate in the market
Roughly three-quarters of consumers participate in the market, renting or buying at least once a year. Participation decreases with age, with over 90% of teens participating, as compared to only half of over-65s. Participation increases with income, rising from 57% of households with income under $25K to over 80% of households above $75K in annual income. Households with children present are also more likely than households without children to participate.
Most consumers buy between four and 12 DVDs and rent roughly 28 DVDs annually. Movies are the most preferred type of content, followed by children's titles. The majority of children select their own content at least some of the time. Seven in ten respondents cite the convenience and cost-effectiveness of home video as primary reasons for market participation.
Theater attendance important to sales
More than eight in ten theater attendees participate in the market, as compared to less than two in ten respondents who have not been to the movie theater in the last six months. Theater attendance is a driver for the market, with half of respondents purchasing movies they have already seen. The most popular titles for sale, however, are those that respondents are familiar with but haven't seen. As a result, slow turns at the box office in summer 2005 may result in rapid sales of the same movies in fall 2005. Half of respondents are also willing to purchase titles they are not familiar with, and a quarter decide to purchase a title after enjoying it as a rental.


VoD and DVR to hurt rentals
There appears to be little competition between video software sales and ownership of satellite dish and cable TV ownership—only a fifth of respondents to Mintel's proprietary survey report that TV and cable programming prevent them from buying/renting DVDs. Ownership of video-on-demand or pay-per-view does present competition for home video, however.
The home video software market faces growing competition from a range of sources. Video-on-demand (VoD) and digital video recorders (DVR), with much the same functionality as DVD players yet with inexpensive content available through programming subscriptions, are already siphoning off sales, and stand to have a demonstrative impact, particularly on rentals, as these services mainstream. At least half of those with access to these services report buying and renting less as a result.
HD-DVD to provide limited support in 2006
The arrival of HD-DVD in 2005 may be a non-event, with no settlement reached between competing formats. Additionally, content support will be limited initially upon arrival of hardware. Studios including Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Universal, which initially planned a combined 100 titles for release in 2005, may instead put out 12 or fewer from Universal only. Through the rest of the decade, however, HD-DVD is expected to pick up sales and become an important growth sector in an otherwise maturing market place.
Theatrical release windows continue to shrink
The average theatrical window continues to decrease, down from 153 days in 2003 to 139 days in 2004. Eventually, some pressure to speed up DVD release widows will be due to growing market losses stemming from piracy and illegal file sharing, as studios wish to maintain consumer business and find it more difficult to do so when content becomes illegally available immediately upon theatrical release.
Increased piracy looming
Piracy is estimated to cost the industry $3.5 billion in sales globally. To date, piracy via hard copy has been a primary issue for the U.S. industry. However, as compression technology improves and broadband speeds become faster, electronic distribution via P2P networks is likely to plague the home video software market just as it has been an irritant for the music industry. Fortunately, after the music industry debacle, video is likely to respond more quickly with reduced prices for legal hard copy and safe, reasonably priced methods for legal downloads.
Continued growth of DVD sales and rentals
In spite of the threat presented by piracy, VOD, and DVR, Mintel forecasts that DVD rentals and sales will continue to grow. U.S. DVD rental revenue is predicted to increase 57% at current prices and to increase 33% at constant prices from 2005 to 2010. By comparison, from 2000 to 2005, U.S. DVD rental revenue increased by 923% at current prices and increased 806% at constant 2005 prices.
U.S. DVD sell-through revenue is predicted to increase 74% at current prices and to increase 48% at constant prices from 2005 to 2010. By comparison, from 2000 to 2005, U.S. DVD sell-through revenue increased by 854% at current prices and increased 744% at constant 2005 prices.
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