MediaFile

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

Wow! My Blockbuster is closed

blockbuster for sale 2b

The fate of the Blockbuster movie rental chain really hit home this weekend when I saw a “for rent” sign on what was once a busy location. That particular shop — on a high-traffic Westchester, NY  strip, across the street from a always-busy mall — was once a bustling spot, particularly on weekends. The economy is rough, of course, but I would have bet it would outlive its smaller neighbors.

Nope. The mom-and-pop pet supply store a few doors down, which is spitting distance from a mega-PetSmart and PetGoods? Still open. The baseball card memorabilia/comic book shop? Open AND buying stuff.blockbuster for sale 2

Sure, Blockbuster, which is facing tough competition from Netflix and Redbox,  has said it planned to close up to 1,560 stores by the end of this year. And I — a Netflix member and cable on-demand user — can’t remember the last time I was actually in that store. Maybe its my fault.

Blockbuster gets kicked when it’s down by cable companies

Blockbuster storeIt’s a tough time to be a video rental store owner wherever you are, but it’s especially tough if you’re Blockbuster Inc and have 6,500 stores to manage, thousands of employees, expensive debt repayments and a sinking share price.

Yesterday Blockbuster warned for the first time that it may need to file for bankruptcy protection and its auditors at Pricewaterhouse raised doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern.

It doesn’t get any worse than that right? No, it does.

According to a story we spotted today from Hollywood Reporter, movie studios and cable companies are joining forces for a $30 million advertising campaign over the coming months to promote awareness of movies available on cable’s video on demand services.

Soccer clubs and mortgages: How a media mogul spends $10 million

Unlike many of us, media executives know what it’s like to play around with large wads of cash. So it seemed natural to ask them about what kind of investment opportunities they’re seeing when they gathered in New York this week for the Reuters Global Media Summit.

We gave each media honcho $10 million in hypothetical cash and told them to put the money to work without buying stock in their own companies.

Diller11Some executives plowed the money into broad sectors and regions, like emerging markets, while others zeroed in on specific stocks, like Electronic Arts’ CEO John Riccitiello’s penchant for software maker Adobe.

from Summit Notebook:

Redbox: Paving the way for “G.I. Joe” rentals

You thought that maybe that giant Redbox machine in your local food mart, offering $1 DVDs, was simply a low-cost way to share a movie night with the family.

Its REALLY a (nearly) free pass for guys to grab testosterone-rich, leave-your-brain-at-the-door, man-cinema, where stuff blows up reaaal gooood.

You know: "Predator" or "Conan the Destroyer." Or something else starring Govenor Arnold. Redbox President Mitch Lowe said the low price allows people to explore their taste universe...

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Xbox, Youtube, iPhone

We caught up with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the movie rental company’s event where it awarded a $1 million prize after a contest aimed at improving the accuracy of movie recommendations. He spoke about his hopes of working with Apple on the iPhone, the possibility that YouTube will beef up its movie service, and the future of the DVD.

Reuters: What will Netflix subscribers gain from the improvements in the recommendation system?

Hastings: It’s doubling the quality of our movie recommendation and that helps our subscribers get more enjoyment from movies. Because more often they love the movie they watch. More often the movies recommended will will turn out to be movies that you love. If you watch a couple of movies and don’t like many, you start to watch (sports and other programming). If every movie is incredible, you start to watch more.