Ingram Entertainment is getting out of the DVD and Blu-ray Disc business.
“Expenses are exceeding sales [so it’s] time to exit,” chairman and CEO David Ingram told Media Play News. “Every associate who fulfills their obligations and parts on good terms is getting severance. Our exit from the industry is orderly and most customers and studios have been notified. We will be around for a while as we reduce inventory. We have no bank debt.”
Once the largest distributor of physical media home entertainment product, the La Vergne, Tenn.-based company consolidated disc distribution even more through its 2019 acquisition of Baker & Taylor, another large distributor of home entertainment products.
At the time, chairman and CEO David Ingram said in a press release that “structural changes in the physical home entertainment marketplace” triggered the deal.
“Acquiring these entertainment assets of Baker & Taylor will enhance our financial performance by enabling us to process more units through our existing facilities throughout the country,” Ingram said. “Those efficiencies will better position us to work with our suppliers to provide our retailers — including former Baker & Taylor retail entertainment customers — with the products they need for the success of their businesses. In short, we look forward to the opportunities this transaction provides for our suppliers, customers and associates.”
Five years earlier, in 2014, Ingram acquired the assets of another large home video distributor, V.P.D. IV Inc. of Folsom, Calif.
V.P.D. (which did business as Video Products Distributors Inc.) also was a distributor of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, video games and gaming systems.
Ingram Entertainment was founded in 1981. During the heyday of the VHS era, when independent rental stores still accounted for the majority of the home entertainment business, most video cassettes came to market through third-party distributors like Ingram, Baker & Taylor, V.P.D., Major Video Concepts, Artec, WaxWorks and Flash Distributors.
Distributors met each spring in Indian Wells, Calif., for annual meetings with studio executives, where through their trade group, the National Association of Video Distributors (NAVD), they lobbied for better pricing and terms as well as a standard Tuesday street date for new home video releases.
The rise of national video rental chains, most notably Blockbuster, saw studios establish direct relationships with key retail buys, minimizing the importance of third-party distributors. This trend accelerated with the advent of DVD.
Ingram was also a pioneer in the distributor mailer business, in which distributors charged studios and suppliers money to run ads in a weekly or monthly catalog of new and upcoming releases. The distributor mailer was a primary competitor to video trade magazines, which at their peak numbered five.
Steve Scavelli, who owns one of the few remaining home entertainment distributors, Flash Electronics of Brooklyn, N.Y., said, “This is not surprising. Everyone knows physical media as a percentage of home entertainment has been declining for the last 20 years, and especially for a large company with large overhead it’s next to impossible to make a profit. Ingram has been a stalwart of the industry for many years, and I’m sure this decision came from a financial perspective of just not enough product and not enough business in the physical realm.”