Roll Over, Shakespeare! Brits Spend More on Home Entertainment Than Print

British love for the printed word is apparently over.

Consumers spent more on music, streaming video, movies and video games in 2017 than on books, magazines and newspapers, according to new data from the Entertainment Retailers Association. It is the first time revenue from home entertainment exceeded print media.

Key drivers included digital services such as Spotify, Steam, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Deezer, Sky, Apple and Google.

According to research prepared for ERA by the Leisure Industries Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, Britons spent £7.2bn ($9.91 billion) on music, video and games compared to £7.1bn ($9.77 billion) on books, magazines and newspapers.

“It is an extraordinary testament to the appeal and resonance of digital entertainment services that they have helped home entertainment to hit this milestone nearly 550 years since the invention of the printing press,” ERA CEO Kim Bayley said in a statement.

While entertainment sales reached an all-time-high for the third year, spending on print was stagnant and substantially down on its 2007 peak of £8.3bn ($11.4 billion).

The entertainment growth rate (8.8%) exceeded that of virtually every sector monitored by the Leisure Industries Research Centre, including dining (up 7.7%), alcohol (up 6%), foreign travel (up 4.4%) and gambling (up 1%). Total leisure spending was up 5.2%.

“The 2008-2009 recession hurt both the entertainment and reading markets,” said Dr. Themis Kokolakakis with Leisure Industries Research Centre. “Since 2012, the entertainment market has recovered very strongly producing record 2017 results. [Print] media is under pressure, partly because of the growth of streaming services, partly because there is so much competition for people’s time and attention. Entertainment has grown while reading has stagnated.”

Meanwhile, five years ago more than 80% of revenue was generated by buy-to-own formats such as discs or downloads. In 2017, 56% of revenue came from music and streaming video, transactional VOD or subscriptions to online multiplayer games, digital micro-transactions and in-app purchases on mobile devices.

“The success of the entertainment business is a testament to the power of innovation, creating new ways for people to enjoy the music, video and games they love,” Bayley said.

Notable packaged media growth included boxed software for consoles such as the new Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4, which generated their first growth in 10 years – up 5% to £750m ($1 billion); and vinyl albums, with sales up 34% to £87.7m ($120 million).

“Digital services may be grabbing the headlines, but physical retailers continue to identify new opportunities to showcase and drive sales of discs,” said Bayley. “Vinyl is a prime example of retailers nurturing demand for a product most people had long written off. It would be foolish to underestimate the consumers continuing affection for physical product.”

Finally, Ed Sheeran’s album Divide was the best-selling music, video or game title in the UK in 2017, achieving sales of more than 2.7 million units.

In 2017, 33 music, video or game titles sold over half a million units. Of these, 10 sold over 1 million units and three over 2 million. Of the Top 40 biggest sellers, seven were music albums, 10 were video games and 23 were videos, led by a trio of titles from Walt Disney Studios – Beauty & The BeastRogue One – A Star Wars Story and Moana.

 

ERA Entertainment Chart 2017
Position Category Title Artist Company Units sold
1 Albums Divide Ed Sheeran Warner Music 2,702,839
2 Video games FIFA 18 Electronic Arts 2,696,721
3 Video games Call of Duty: WWII Activision Blizzard 2,442,416
4 Video Beauty and The Beast (2017) Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 1,484,565
5 Video Rogue One – A Star Wars Story Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 1,380,402
6 Video Moana Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 1,293,787
7 Video Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Warner Home Video 1,279,850
8 Video games Grand Theft Auto V Take 2 1,080,022
9 Video Bridget Jones’s Baby Universal Pictures Home Entertainment 1,052,753
10 Albums Human Rag’n’Bone Man Sony Music 1,001,913
11 Video Guardians of The Galaxy – Vol 2 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 873,825
12 Video Trolls 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 872,586
13 Video Sing Universal Pictures Home Entertainment 805,342
14 Video Dunkirk Warner Home Video 753,429
15 Video games Assassin’s Creed Origins Ubisoft 679,965
16 Video games Destiny 2 Activision Blizzard 673,551
17 Video games Star Wars Battlefront II Electronic Arts 658,814
18 Video games Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy Activision Blizzard 651,354
19 Video Despicable Me 3 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment 631,748
20 Video Logan 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 614,631
21 Video Doctor Strange Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 612,745
22 Albums Now That’s What I Call Music 96 Various Artists Sony Music/Universal Music 601,906
23 Albums Now That’s What I Call Music 97 Various Artists Sony Music/Universal Music 595,547
24 Video Wonder Woman Warner Home Video 591,316
25 Video games Tom Clancey’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands UBISOFT 574,889
26 Albums Now That’s What I Call Music 96 Various Artists Sony Music/Universal Music 560,286
27 Video Spider-Man – Homecoming Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 551,227
28 Video Pirates of The Caribbean – Salazars Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 538,735
29 Video The Girl on The Train 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 525,996
30 Video La La Land Elevation Sales 525,342
31 Albums The Thrill of It All Sam Smith Universal Music 501,952
32 Video The Boss Baby 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 501,453
33 Video Fast & Furious 8 Universal Pictures 500,617
34 Video The Lego Batman Movie Warner Home Video 494,446
35 Video games Gran Turismo: Sport Sony Computer Ent. 484,933
36 Albums Glory Days Little Mix Sony Music 468,173
37 Video Fifty Shades Darker Universal Pictures 466,119
38 Video Hacksaw Ridge Elevation Sales 465,138
39 Video games Horizon Zero Dawn Sony Computer Ent. 456,374
40 Video War For The Planet Of The Apes 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 435,440

 

The Weinstein Co. Board Confirms Asset Sale

Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the Small Business Administration in the Obama Administration, has reached an agreement with the New York State Attorney General’s office to purchase The Weinstein Co. – less than a week after the embattled studio’s board said the deal was off and that it would file for bankruptcy.

The award-winning studio – including The Weinstein Co. Home Entertainment – founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, is embroiled in myriad allegations of improper sexual conduct, including rape, by Harvey Weinstein – charges Weinstein denies.

Contreras-Sweet, together with billionaire investor Ron Burkle, had offered $500 million for TWC – a deal that apparently fell through after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against TWC on Feb. 11.

Schneiderman subsequently voiced his disappointment that TWC was looking at filing for bankruptcy.

In a statement, reported by Reuters, Contreras-Sweet said investors had reached an agreement to purchase TWC assets, launch a new company, majority led by women, save about 150 jobs, protect small businesses that are owed money and create a victims’ compensation fund, among other objectives.

“We are grateful to the New York State Attorney General’s office for their efforts in helping us reach an agreement and we are grateful to our investors who have believed in this process and in the compelling value of a female-led company. We also want to thank all the parties who returned to the negotiating table to help reach this development,” read the statement.

The Weinstein Co. board later issued a statement confirming the deal.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff, Maria Contreras-Sweet, Ron Burkle and his team at Yucaipa for bringing about this agreement,” read the statement.

Schneiderman, in a statement, reiterated his support for the deal.

“Our office will support a deal that ensures victims will be adequately compensated, employees will be protected moving forward, and those who were responsible for misconduct at TWC will not be unjustly rewarded.”

‘Daddy’s Home 2’ Takes Over Top Spots on Home Video Charts

Paramount’s Daddy’s Home 2 debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Feb. 24.

The comedy sequel earned $104 million at the domestic box office, and would have had a bigger lead on the charts were it not available separately as part of a two-pack with the first Daddy’s Home, a combo tracked separately by VideoScan.

Lionsgate’s Wonder dropped to No. 2 on both charts. In its second week on shelves, Wonder sold 98% of copies as the solo versions of Daddy’s Home 2 in its first week. When accounting for the two-pack, Wonder sold 86% as many copies as Daddy’s Home 2 overall.

No. 3 on both charts was Sony Pictures’ The Star, a faith-based animated comedy about the Nativity told from the point of view of the animals that were there. The film earned $40.9 million in U.S. theaters.

Rounding out the top five on the overall chart were Universal’s A Bad Moms Christmas at No. 4 and Warner’s It at No. 5. Their orders were reversed on the Blu-ray chart.

Blu-ray disc accounted for 53% of unit sales of Daddy’s Home 2 and 46% of The Star.

Daddy’s Home 2 was also the top title on the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Feb. 25, again pushing Wonder to No. 2.

A Bad Moms Christmas slipped to No. 3, with The Star debuting at No. 4 and Warner’s Geostorm holding on at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 02-24-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 02-25-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 02-24-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 02-24-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 02-24-18

Einstein Biopic Series ‘Genius’ Due on DVD April 17

National Geographic’s first-ever scripted series, “Genius,” about the life of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein, will hit DVD April 17 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Geoffrey Rush stars as Einstein in the series from executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.

Special features include:

  • “Meet the Characters,”
  • “Einstein’s Love Life,”
  • “Einstein’s Escape From Hitler,”
  • “The Making of Genius,”
  • “Behind the Scenes with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer
  • “Behind the Scenes with the Cast,”
  • “Costumes and Makeup,”
  • “What Does ‘Genius’ Mean?,”
  • “Two Einsteins.”

Viacom CEO: ‘Our Brands Coming to Mobile’ in the U.S.

Look for Viacom and its key brands – Paramount Pictures, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET – to go increasingly mobile in the United States.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, CEO Bob Bakish said recently announced moves partnering with Spain’s Telefónica making Viacom’s brands available on the telecom’s Movistar Play platform, underscored a need to “export” that strategy in the United States.

“We’re also in a very interesting conversation here in the U.S. right now about bringing our brands to mobile, and I believe that will happen in 2018,” Bakish said.

The executive said the year revolves around growing margins in established businesses, new distribution channels as well as improving synergies among internal brands through consumer products, live-events and incremental studio opportunities.

“We see a clear path toward top-line growth,” Bakish said, adding he expects Paramount growth to materialize in 2019.

The executive said Paramount is transforming from an underleveraged “fiscal mess” in 2016 that “ate over” $1 billion in cash, to a unit with a content library growing more than $300 million in value annually.

Half the studio’s release slate will be franchise sequels, with the remaining branded around Nickelodeon.

Viacom in January rolled of the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV), an ad-supported service distributing original (“Waco” miniseries, starring Taylor Kitsch as cult leader David Koresh) and catalog content.

Future original series include, “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner; “American Woman,” a single-camera comedy set in the 1970s amid the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism, starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari; and “Heathers” an hour-long pitch-black comedy anthology set in the present day, based on the 1988 cult classic film of the same name.

“[Paramount] is an iconic brand, known all around the world. It’s on a clear path to return to profitability,” Bakish said.

 

 

Lionsgate Inks Director Paul Feig to Create More TV Content

Lionsgate March 1 announced a first-look deal with award-winning multi-hyphenate Paul Feig and his producing partner Jessie Henderson to create scripted and unscripted series and formats.

The studio/distributor’s relationship with Feig in the television business already includes the unscripted half-hour Netflix comedy series, “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale,” an absurdist look at pop culture. The show generated significant buzz in its Netflix global launch last month. Feig also created “Nurse Jackie” with Lionsgate for HBO.

“Paul epitomizes the ‘premium’ in premium talent, and our collaborative, cross-divisional approach allows us to tap his creative brilliance across an ever-expanding array of platforms,” Chris Selak, EVP and head of worldwide scripted television, said in a statement.

A three-time Emmy-nominated writer/director and DGA Award winner, Feig created critically-acclaimed TV series, “Freaks and Geeks,” and served as director and co-executive producer of “The Office. His series, “Other Space,” marked his return to television in 2015.

Feig’s theatrical credits include comedies BridesmaidsSpyGhostbusters, and The Heat.  His films have grossed over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, and he is currently in post-production on thriller, A Simple Favor, starring Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick and Henry Golding, to be released Sept. 14 by Lionsgate.

Barnes & Noble Narrows Q3 Loss

In an age of ecommerce, Amazon and free shipping, Barnes & Noble is putting on a brave face despite fiscal appearances of a “dead retail chain walking.”

The chain reported a third-quarter (ended Jan. 27) loss of $63.5 million, which was an improvement from a loss of $70.2 million during the previous-year period. Revenue declined 5.3% to $1.2 billion from $1.3 billion.

Specifically, retail sales topped $1.2 billion, down from $1.27 last year. Nook segment revenue, which includes digital, consumer electronics, dropped almost 20% to $30.9 million from $38.4 million.

The declines underscored a same-store decrease of 5.8% primarily due to lower foot traffic. Alarming, considering the period included the winter holidays when even non-readers frequent bookstores – and merchandise includes DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies and TV shows.

“While we were disappointed with our holiday sales, comparable store sales trends did improve in January,” CEO Demos Parneros said in a statement.

Perneros is Barnes & Noble’s fourth CEO since 2013, upgrading from the COO position last April after former CEO Ronald Boire was fired.

The executive is saying all the right things, including strengthening the core business by “enhancing the customer value proposition,” improving profitability through an “aggressive expense management,” which he says will fund growth initiatives, simplify the retail experience and innovate for the future.

“We have initiated a strategic turnaround plan that is centered on growing the business and enhancing shareholder value,” Perneros said. “In the short term we are focused on stabilizing sales, improving productivity and reducing expenses.”

In February, the chain implemented a companywide expense reduction plan, including a new store labor model that provides greater flexibility by eliminating tasks and allowing employees to focus more on customers. It estimates these actions will result in annual cost savings of about $40 million.

But short of becoming Amazon, which launched as an online bookseller during the dotcom era, B&N is treading water.

Indeed, purchasing Oscar-nominee DVD, Darkest Hour, at B&N.com costs $25.17 — and $17.96 on Amazon.

Netflix and Sky Ink European Pact

Everyone wants a piece of British satellite TV operator Sky, including Netflix.

Sky and Netflix March 1 unveiled an agreement to bundle the SVOD pioneer into an updated Sky TV subscription pack. This partnership – the first of its kind – will give Sky subs in the United Kingdom and Ireland later this year direct access to Netflix through its Sky Q platform.

Netflix will launch on Sky Q platforms in Germany, Austria and Italy thereafter. Sky provides sports programming, movies and broadband service to 23 million homes across Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria.

Sky will make Netflix available to new and existing customers via a TV pack combining Sky and Netflix content side-by-side for the first time – including thousand hours of Ultra HD content, complementing Sky Q’s UHD programming.

“By placing Sky and Netflix content side-by-side, along with programs from HBO, Showtime, Fox and Disney, we are making the entertainment experience even easier and simpler for our customers,” Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said in a statement.

Integration of the Netflix app essentially turns the SVOD behemoth into a pay-TV channel enabling Sky customers – via single monthly bill and user interface – to peruse myriad programs, including “Britannia,” “Billions” and “Big Little Lies” with “The Crown,” “Stranger Things” and “Black Mirror.”

Existing Netflix customers will be able to migrate their account to the new Sky TV bundle, or sign into the Netflix app using their existing account details.

In the UK and Ireland, Sky will launch Netflix as a standalone app on Now TV’s family of streaming devices (manufactured by Roku), including on the recently launched Now TV Smart Stick. Sky Ticket in Germany and Austria, and Now TV in Italy, will launch a standalone app on their devices.

“With this innovative new partnership … Sky’s customers will be able to seamlessly access all the best entertainment in one place,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The deal comes after Comcast announced a $31 billion offer to acquire Sky – topping an existing bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to acquire the remaining 61% stake it doesn’t own. In addition, the Walt Disney Co. has a $52 billion offer to acquire select Fox assets, including Sky.

Best Buy Ups Q4 Entertainment Revenue 17%

It’s not all gloom and doom at Best Buy.

The nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer March 1 reported a 16.8% increase in fourth-quarter (ended Feb. 3) same-store entertainment revenue, compared to a 18.6% decline in the previous-year period.

The entertainment segment, which includes myriad products such as DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, generated 10%, or $1.39 billion, of domestic revenue. The segment generated 9% ($1.1 billion) in the previous-year period.

From a merchandising perspective, Best Buy generated comparable sales growth across most of its categories, with the largest drivers being mobile phones, gaming, appliances, smart home, wearables and home theater.

“We are especially proud of our 9% comparable sales growth in the quarter, which brings our annual comparable sales growth to 5.6% for the year,” CEO Hubert Joly said in a statement.

International entertainment segment comp sales increased 11% from a 23.8% decline in 2017, generating 9%, or $123.8 million, in revenue. The segment generated $102.9 million in revenue last year.

While it was reported that Best Buy will be shuttering all domestic branded mobile stores later this year, overall domestic revenue in the quarter was negatively impacted by the closure of 18 big box stores.

Meanwhile, from a profitability standpoint, Best Buy operating income in the domestic segment declined, which CFO Corie Barry attributed to higher employee compensation and SG&E expenses.

“This is due to the increase in the incentive compensation expense for more than 85,000 store and corporate employees as a result of the very strong performance throughout the year, and to the investments we’ve made in the business,” Barry said. “These expenses were partially offset by efficiencies and cost savings.”