Familiar script: Home entertainment spending slips

Spending on home viewing of movies and television, on a downward spiral in recent years, fell again in 2011 as sales of DVDs and rentals at video stores dropped.

Total U.S. consumer dollars spent on home entertainment — including DVDs, video on demand and online streaming — declined 2.1 percent to $18 billion for the year, according to industry group DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. Consumers continued to shift to lower-priced rentals from companies such as Netflix and Coinstar’s Redbox kiosks, eschewing outright ownership.

The DEG pointed to bright spots, including a 20 percent jump in sales of high-definition Blu-ray discs that topped $2 billion for the first time. “The industry’s performance clearly stabilized in 2011,” it said in a statement. (The top choices for the year? “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1,” followed by “Part 2″ at No. 2)

Meanwhile, Hollywood is trying to reinvigorate interest in movie ownership with a cloud-based digital locker called Ultraviolet that allows viewing anytime from Internet-connected devices. The consortium that runs Ultraviolet, in an announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, said movie studios will offer hundreds of titles with the Ultraviolet option this year, up from a paltry, initial 19.

More than 750,000 households have registered with UltraViolet to create digital libraries since last fall’s launch, Mark Teitell, general manager of the Ultraviolet consortium, said in an interview. 
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

New York Times introduces film club

Nothing else seems to have helped newspapers reflect the stronger economic recovery of the rest of media. Old films can’t hurt.

The New York Times forged another path to the club-based membership service — a trend that has grown in popularity among newspapers. Today the newspaper debuted the New York Times Film Club, created for “an audience passionate about movies,” according to the press release.

Membership to the club affords you two red-carpet screenings of remastered Hollywood classics as well as six preview viewings for upcoming releases. The yearly membership costs $100 for individuals and $175 to add another person.

New York Times — Profit sliding, Red Sox stake up for sale

The New York Times confirmed this morning that it’s looking to get rid of its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team, something previously reported by a number of news outlets.

The Times could raise at least $200 million selling its stake, analysts have said, though it should be noted that selling anything these days — even part of a first class baseball organization — is no easy task.

Check back to MediaFile for more on the sale shortly.

Meanwhile, here’s a recap of the New York Times decline in quarterly results:

Clear Channel hears the writing on the wall

ccu.jpgClear Channel may be fighting its banks with guns blazing in a Texas court, but it’s singing a softer tune to Washington regulators.

The company told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its pending $20 billion buyout by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners may not close, saying it wanted to caution the markets not to hope for an easy resolution.
The deal was supposed to close by March 31, but six banks who agreed to finance it have since balked as debt markets deteriorate. As far as Clear Channel is concerned, all the other closing conditions have been met.

Keep an eye on:

    Tom Cruise dined at a Beverly Hills hot spot with Viacom chief Sumner Redstone, who severed the actor’s long-running partnership with the company’s Paramount Pictures in 2006. Cruise is widely thought to want to renew the “Mission: Impossible” series, which Paramount has the rights to.
    (WSJ) WiMax could prove a bigger risk than its worth for top U.S. cable companies, especially as they plunk down cash in a tough economy for an unproven technology.
    (Reuters) David Marash, the most prominent American anchor on Al Jazeera English, has quit the 24-hour international news channel, citing an increased level of editorial control exercised by the channel’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

(Photo: Reuters)