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Monday, February 25, 2008

Two from the Times: Online Video Viewing Data, and Saving the DVD

- The NY Times offers some interesting data about how people consume video online: the 20 percent of viewers who watch the most video view more than 140 times as much of it as the 50 percent who watch the least. With data from comScore and Media Contacts, the Times found that the top 20 percent of viewers see 841 minutes (or 14 hours) of video every month, on average. The bottom 50 percent watch just six minutes a month.

- The Times also has a very smart examination of how studios are trying to sustain their DVD sales -- both high-def and standard-def. Brooks Barnes and Matt Richtel write:

    Movie studios are fighting back by taking a page from the Internet playbook. Indeed, the centerpiece of the market rejuvenation effort is something 20th Century Fox calls “digital copy.” Fox DVDs, starting last month, now come with an additional disc holding a digital file of the title. Consumers can download the file to a computer in about five minutes — far less time than via the Internet — and then watch the movie there or transfer it to their iPod.

    ...But John Freeman, an industry analyst, sees the effort as a stall tactic. Although digital copies are “a step forward,” he said, that step is tantamount to Hollywood admitting that its lucrative hard-goods business is growing obsolete. Today, digital files on discs; tomorrow, mass downloading straight from the Internet.

    Troubles big and small started buffeting the DVD business in 2005. First, overall sales of television shows on disc started to slip as releases lost their freshness — New to DVD! “Murder She Wrote: The Complete Eighth Season” — and consumers realized they were devoting a lot of living room space to bulky boxed sets they never watched.

    Next, prices started to plummet as overall demand weakened and retailers and grocery stores turned to DVDs as loss leaders. DVDs sold for an average retail price of $15.01 last year, compared with $21.95 in 2000, according to Adams.

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