2020 U.K. Home Entertainment Revenue Jumped 26%; Warner’s ‘Joker’ Top-Selling Title

Following a 2020 that saw the coronavirus pandemic upend the global entertainment industry, home entertainment in the United Kingdom blossomed, with revenue up 26% to £3.3 billion ($4.5 billion) compared with £2.6 billion ($3.5 billion) in 2019, according to new data from the British Association for Screen Entertainment, the Official Charts Company, Futuresource Consulting and Kantar.

Top-selling title in 2020: Warner Home Video’s Joker, with the Oscar-winning drama tallying 1.4 million units across digital and physical formats. The four best-selling titles all topped one million transactions across disc, EST and TVOD, and the balance of the Top 10 all exceeded 500,000 transactions. In short, it was a banner year for U.S. studios.

“2020 saw digital home video reach new heights, with digital sell-through and rental growth accelerating despite pandemic enforced movie delays,” David Sidebottom, principal analyst, entertainment, Futuresource Consulting, said in a statement. “The strength of library content has been truly impressive and sustained throughout the year, even more notable given the continued proliferation of wider video streaming services.”

Like much of the world, the No. 2 home entertainment market saw consumers staying home in the face of the threat from coronavirus, with digital formats making huge gains; taking advantage of the instant access and range of content choice. Total electronic sellthrough (or digital purchase) sales across both film and TV content delivered 14.5% growth year-on-year after a record period of growth during the March lockdown.

Spend on TVOD (transactional video-on-demand), supported by shoppers new to the category, saw almost 24% growth. Kantar reported that the total number of customers buying and renting across the video category grew by 14% between March and November to 12.9 million as audiences sought flexible access to content across transactional methods.

At the same time, SVOD continued its meteoric growth, up an astounding 42% in 2020. Streaming services now account for 74% of the total market value, with new services joining the market in 2020 such as Disney+, and an expansion in the uptake of existing services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video during the first lockdown period. Kantar also revealed that 23% of British households signed up to a subscription service during the first quarter — around the time Disney+ launched with a further 7% and 3.5% of households, respectively, doing so in the following two quarters of the year.

Driven by catalog titles, re-releases and select new titles, 30% of consumers bought packaged media (DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K UHD Blu-ray), up from 25% in 2019.

“The shift to digital doesn’t diminish the resilience of physical formats, though, as evidenced by the performance of TV and catalog content on disc, and by the strength of premium formats like Blu-ray and 4K UHD, both underlining that many viewers are still driven by collection and the access to the best possible home viewing experience that disc provides,” said Liz Bales, CEO of BASE.

Electronic Sellthrough

Electronic sellthrough ended 2020 with 27% growth in volume and 16% in value, with digital formats accounting for more than 43% of the transactional market. During the first 12-week lockdown period, the share of spend for digital film was 45% of the total £138.6 million retail disc and EST spend, up from 26% across the same period in 2019. This huge growth was largely retained after lockdown, with EST ending the year with 36% of spend, up from 26% in 2019.

Due in part to shifts in the new release slate, catalog content has grown its share of all film EST transactions from 49% to 56% in 2020, the catalog share is up 42% year on year, with positive growth every week since the first lockdown period.

VOD

The year saw title-level data on transactional video-on-demand activity become available for the first time from the Official Charts Company and based on data from digital retailers, delivering a view of consumer engagement with VOD services. VOD activity saw a period of rapid growth during the COVID-19 March lockdown, with an average of 600,000 rentals per week before lockdown rising to more than 1 million rentals a week after lockdown was implemented.

Digital rental’s popularity is now evident, with more than 30.8 million rental transactions made through October (Q4 data will be available in Q1 2021), a significant portion of the total 75 million pieces of content that have either been purchased or rented across disc, film EST and VOD.

The year also saw distributors adopt a test and trial approach to bring content to consumers with the likes of premium EST and premium VOD (PVOD). Kantar reports that 1.1 million shoppers have rented a PVOD title since March (with the ‘Premium’ element being classified as a rental price above £10), accounting for 6% of all digital rentals and 20% of total rental spend.

Proving the value in these high-definition disc formats, 2020 saw an increase in average selling price across the Blu-ray format, up 7.1% year-on-year to £15.94 ($21.75). Echoing its performance on other formats, catalog content has thrived on Blu-ray, remaining in positive growth and ending the year with a value of over £73 million ($99.5 million).

Consumers continued to show strong engagement with 4K Ultra High Definition, with sales up 20% year-on-year, and accounting for 23% of total Blu-ray sales. High value re-releases of catalog content thrived in 2020, with a vast array of classic content given the 4K UHD treatment. Total consumer spend topped £19.2 million ($26.2 million), which accounted for 73% of total 4K UHD spend.

Consumers have proven in 2020 that there is continuing demand to own classic catalog titles on premium disc formats, and with a huge treasure trove of content yet to receive re-releases, the 564 titles currently available on the 4K UHD format seems likely to keep rising entering 2021.

Television Content

TV content proved to be robust in the disc market, with 28% consumer spending, up from 23% in 2019. During the second and third quarter of 2020, with the flow of new-release movies impacted by national lockdown measures, TV content showed a growth of 5.4% to a 26% of consumer spend in this period.

Catalog TV content soared, with growth of 5.7% year-on-year surpassing £80 million ($109 million), with the category accounting for three of the top four best-selling TV titles of the year. Top-selling titles included Game of Thrones S8 (Warner Bros.), Chernobyl (Acorn Video by RLJ Entertainment), BBC Studios’ Doctor Who Classic Series Blu-ray Collections; Outlander S5 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment); Downton Abbey the Complete Collection (Universal), and Gangs of London (Dazzler Media).

New releases such as The Crown S3 (Sony) and Gavin & Stacey: A Christmas Special (BBC Studios) also excelled, ending the year in third and seventh place, respectively, in the TV chart. BBC Studios’ newly commissioned animations of lost “Doctor Who” episodes, “The Faceless Ones” and “Fury from the Deep,” also performed well, contributing to combined sales across all content came at £4.9 million ($6.7 million), a 15% year-on-year growth from 2019.

Market Share

Disney ended the year as the leading distributor across combined disc and digital volume sales, with a 19.1% share, with Frozen 2 leading the way with 1.3 million units sold. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continued its reign as the largest distributor across disc sales for both volume and value, remaining a full percentage point above the second-place distributor.

2021 Slate

Looking ahead to 2021, as the U.K. public cautiously anticipates the return to normality in a vaccinated post-pandemic world, so does home entertainment. With Tenet (Warner) performing strongly across digital and premium disc formats in the final weeks of 2020, and as the first major new release title to launch since the spring, consumer demand is clearly high, with a plethora of titles ready to perform across a diverse 2021 slate.

Pending releases include Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal), Luca (Disney), Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (Sony), and Tom and Jerry (Warner). Other releases include James Corden’s musical take on Cinderella (Sony), and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Disney); superhero spinoffs and sequels with Disney’s Eternals and Black Widow, as well as Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) and Warner’s Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman 1984; Antlers (Disney); Spiral (Lionsgate distributed by Elevation Sales) and Last Night in Soho (Universal).

Universal’s F9; Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony); A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount Pictures), Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount), Space Jam: A New Legacy (Warner), and No Time to Die (Universal).

“Amongst the many seismic changes in consumption habits that 2020 has seen, the most encouraging for home entertainment was the indication that subscription services and transactional formats can not only co-exist, but grow in tandem,” said Craig Armer, strategic insight director, Worldpanel Entertainment. “For the first time in at least 8 years, the number of buyers and renters of transactional formats grew, helped by a complete resurgence in the popularity of VOD. Encouraging levels of return for a second purchase amongst new consumers suggests habits being formed that should continue into 2021.”

NRF: More Than 150 Million Consumers Plan to Shop on ‘Super Saturday’ (Dec. 19) — With 27% Eyeing Packaged-Media Gifts

With less a week before Christmas, more than 150 million U.S. consumers plan to shop on Super Saturday (Dec. 19), up slightly from 147.8 million in 2019, according to new data from the National Retail Federation.

NRF’s survey of 8,092 adult consumers was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics Nov. 25 through Dec. 4. The trade group defines the holiday season from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. Over the 2020 holiday season, NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 20% and 30%. In total consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October.

“Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have remained dedicated to protecting their customers, employees and the communities they serve regardless of how and when consumers choose to shop,”  Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, said in a statement.

The number of anticipated shoppers on the last Saturday before Christmas includes both in-store and online and is the second-highest reported since NRF began tracking this figure in 2016. Of those planning to shop, 42% intend to do so solely online. Last year Super Saturday occurred just a few days before Christmas, while this year it falls nearly a week before the Christmas holiday, giving shoppers a few extra days to complete purchases.

As noted in NRF’s Thanksgiving survey, more than half (52%) of holiday shoppers took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions even before the Thanksgiving holiday. Last month 186.4 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. As of early December, 85% of holiday consumers had started shopping and they had completed 52% of their purchasing for the season.

For those with at least half of their shopping left to complete, 37% were still deciding what to buy, 26% were waiting for family and friends to tell them what they wanted, and 23% were holding off for the best deals. Similarly to last year, more than half (54%) of holiday shoppers plan to purchase their last gift during the week leading up to Christmas.

A majority (52%) of holiday shoppers plan to do the remainder of their shopping online. Other top destinations include department stores (30%), discount stores (20%), clothing and accessories stores (20%) and electronics stores (17%).

Top gift purchases so far included clothing and accessories (45%), toys (29%), gift cards (28%), books and other media (27%) and electronics (23%). Just 21% of holiday shoppers plan to give a “gift of experience” this year, down from 25% in 2019 and the lowest since NRF first asked the question in 2015.

“While traditionally a popular item, it’s clear that the pandemic has impacted ‘gifts of experience’ this year,” said Phil Rist, Prosper’s EVP of strategy. “With continued uncertainty around gatherings and out-of-home activities, we saw the biggest decline in plans to gift an experience among those ages 35 to 44, but the under-25 cohort also saw a significant dip.”

Still, shopping will continue into the new year. The survey found that two-thirds (66%) of holiday shoppers will likely shop in the week immediately following Christmas. The top reasons consumers plan to shop during the last week of December are to take advantage of post-holiday sales and promotions (45%) and use gift cards (27%). Whether it’s shopping post-holiday sales immediately after Dec. 25 or in the first few weeks of the new year, nearly half of shoppers plan to shop these deals online.

Sony Pictures Inks Nordics DVD/Blu-ray Disc Distribution Deal With SF Studios

SF Studios, a distribution and production company in the Nordics, Nov. 4 announced the signing of a new home entertainment distribution deal for DVD and Blu-ray Disc with Sony Pictures Entertainment, effective Jan. 11, 2021. The new deal covers feature films and TV series in the Nordic and the Baltic markets.

The agreement covers upcoming Sony Pictures titles such as Ghostbusters: AfterlifePeter Rabbit 2Uncharted, the Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters movies Morbius and Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, and a third MCU “Spider-Man” film with Tom Holland as the superhero. Other Sony catalog titles include: Once Upon a Time in HollywoodBlade RunnerAngry BirdsMoneyballMen in Black, “Outlander” and “The Crown,” among many other new and library titles and TV series.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We are incredibly happy and proud to have entered this agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment,” Martin Brandtler, Nordic head of home entertainment distribution at SF Studios, said in a statement. “We are very excited to be working with the Sony team and thrilled to be able to share Sony’s exciting content with consumers in the Nordics and the Baltics.”

This summer, SF Studios announced a new deal with Warner Bros. covering distribution of physical home entertainment products. The new deal with Sony Pictures is another step in this direction. SF Studios and SPE have an existing relationship for theatrical distribution in the Nordics, which includes Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

“With the existing theatrical distribution arrangement between SF Studios and SPE in place, this is a natural next step between our two companies and is a great partnership to bring our feature and television titles, both current and future hits as well as the power of our library, to the Nordic and Baltic market,” said Louise Emblem, VP of distribution and networks for Nordics and Benelux at Sony Pictures. 

Established in 1919, SF Studios has headquarters in Stockholm and offices in Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki and London. The company is producing and distributing feature films and TV series as well as providing digital services SF Anytime and SF Kids. SF Studios is part of Nordic media company Bonnier.

Disc Puts ‘Birds of Prey’ Atop U.K. Film Chart

With scant new releases due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Warner Home Video’s Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn re-entered the U.K.’s Official Film Chart in the No. 1 position for the first time for the week ended June 24 following its release on 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray and DVD.

Originally peaking at No. 3 from its digital release in April, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) standalone sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad stars Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and chronicles the character’s adventures after splitting up with the Joker. Quinn teams up with superheroes Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and tough cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to save a young girl being targeted by nefarious crime lord Roman Sionis/The Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Universal Pictures’ Dolittle moved up to the No. 2 spot, ahead of eOne’s 1917. The Personal History of David Copperfield (Lionsgate U.K.) jumped 20 spots to No. 4. Set in the 1840s, this modernistic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ semi-autobiographical classic was written and directed by Armando Ianucci and stars Dev Patel as the eponymous character.

The previous week’s No. 1 release, Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount Pictures) fell to fifth, ahead of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s perennial Top 10 placer Bad Boys for Life. Animated feature Onward (Disney) dropped to seventh, just ahead of Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which returned to the Top 10 in eighth position.

Follow us on Instagram

Disc also helped Disney/Fox’s The Call of the Wild re-enter the chart in ninth, while Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level remained in the Top 10 for the 12th straight week.

Trans World Entertainment Eyes Q4 Retail Rebound, Digital Decline

In a reversal of industry trends, Trans World Entertainment Corp. March 28 reported a 2.8% increase in fourth-quarter (ended Feb. 2) same-store sales in its f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) mall-based packaged media retail stores.

At the same time, Etailz.com, the online retail subsidiary TWMC acquired in 2016 for $75 million, reported a $62 million loss from operations, which involved a $57 million impairment charge related to company restructuring and 30% workforce reduction – including some senior management.

“This [2.8%] marked the second consecutive quarter of positive [f.y.e.] comp sales,” CEO Mike Feurer said in a statement. “Our customers continue to respond positively to the changes in our merchandise assortment and presentation that were made to counter declining mall traffic and the ongoing declines in physical media.”

Indeed, f.y.e., which operates more than 200 stores nationwide, has been pushing trend items, including collectibles, action figures, posters, T-shirts and related merchandise.

Regardless, store revenue dropped 15% to $78.8 million from $92.4 million from the previous-year period. Operating loss narrowed to $1 million from a loss of $2.4 million during the previous-year period.

Fiscal-year store revenue declined 14% to $231.2 million from $268.3 million during the previous-year period.

Meanwhile, Spokane, Wash.-based Etailz, which helps third parties monetize online sales through platforms such as Amazon, Walmart.com and eBay, posted revenue of $48.6 million, down almost 9% from revenue of $53 million last year.

For the year, revenue increased 7% to $186.9 million from $174.4 million.

“In response to the decline in operating results, we’ve engaged outside support and initiated certain strategic changes to create operational efficiencies directed towards improving [Etailz’s] performance and cash flow,” said Feurer. “We remain confident in the underlying opportunity afforded by etailz as a top marketplace retailer and service provider.”

Trans World Entertainment shares closed up 5.5% at 47 cents per share on March 27.

 

 

Aggressive Marketing Drives Barnes & Noble’s Upbeat Winter Holiday Sales

Books can be a big seller if marketed correctly — especially during the winter holidays. Barnes & Noble apparently got the memo.

The national bookseller March 7 reported third-quarter (ended Jan. 26) net income of $66.9 million, marking a significant fiscal turnaround for the chain, which posted a loss of $63.5 million during the previous-year period. Revenue was flat at $1.23 billion.

Subscribe HERE for FREE Daily Newsletter!

Meanwhile, the Nook segment, which includes electronic readers and tablets, in addition to digital content (movies, TV shows, music), saw revenue decline 22% to $24.3 million from $30.9 million last year. The operating loss increased 330% to $4.3 million from a loss of $1.3 million.

“In fiscal 2019, we have been focused on growing the top line, which contributed to our best holiday in years,” Len Riggio, founder and chairman, said in a statement. “Sales benefited from our new ad campaign, increased marketing and promotions, and an improved omni-channel experience for our customers. We believe these efforts are laying the foundation for sustained growth.”