FandangoNow’s Cameron Douglas Elected EMA Chairman

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment for Fandango’s on-demand video streaming service, FandangoNow, has been elected chairman of the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Douglas replaces Jonathan Zepp, head of worldwide movies and TV partnerships for Google Play.

Other officers include vice chair Suyin Lim, senior director, global content acquisition, Sony Interactive Entertainment; secretary Michele Edelman, EVP, marketing and content strategy, Vubiquity; and treasurer Matt Hill, head of vendor management, Amazon Prime Video.

EMA past chairmen Bob Geistman, EVP, sales and marketing for Ingram Entertainment, and Marty Graham, SVP, comScore, as well as Bill Kotzman, partner product manager, TV/film, Google/YouTube, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

Other members of the board are Amit Balan, head of marketing, Vudu; Lori Flynn, VP, content, Redbox Automated Retail; Ryan Gorman, director, merchandise buying, video games, Target; Pedro E. Gutierrez Jr., director, digital stores movies and TV business and category management, Microsoft; Steve Harkins, VP and GM, Baker & Taylor; Bill Miller, VP and divisional merchandise manager, DVD, Blu-ray, and Games, Trans World Entertainment; Jason Peterson, CEO, ContentBridge Systems; and Mark Vrieling, CEO, ScreenPlay Entertainment.

“In the ever-changing world of home entertainment retailing, we need an organized industry association more than ever,” said Douglas in a statement. “EMA collectively advocates for anyone involved in the consumer delivery of content, promotes and encourages adoption of standards, and establishes trade- and consumer-focused best practices. I am proud to devote my time to an organization so important to our industry.”

“The companies on EMA’s Board of Directors represent the spectrum of the home entertainment industry, including video and video games, physical and digital, and sellthrough, rental, and streaming,” said Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO, in a statement. “These directors personify the diversity of products and business models in our industry and will help ensure that the industry’s trade association meets the needs of all market segments in our incredibly diverse industry.”

Best Buy’s Entertainment ‘Switch’

NEWS ANALYSIS – Best Buy has been a go-to retail source for consumer electronics and household appliances – but less so for home entertainment. That changed in 2017.

The Minneapolis, Minn.-based company, which operates about 1,500 stores nationwide, reported a 12.6% increase in same-store entertainment sales through Feb. 3, 2018.

“Comparable sales gain was driven primarily by gaming hardware,” Best Buy said in the fiscal 10Q report.

A notable turnaround from fiscal 2016 (ended Jan. 28, 2017), which saw nearly 14% drop in entertainment sales – driven by declines in sales of video games, music CDs and movie DVDs due to continued industry softness.

Packaged media’s decline at Best Buy has been ongoing for years. CEO Hubert Joly cut back shelf space on DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies shortly after joining the retail chain in 2012.

Billboard earlier this year reported Target would begin selling packaged media on consignment basis instead of buying wholesale from distributors. Best Buy, it said, would phase out packaged music from stores.

So, what prompted Best Buy’s entertainment redux? Long-lost video game manufacturer Nintendo, which jumpstarted its relevance March 3, 2017 with the launch of the Switch platform and related software.

Switch help Nintendo generate $9.2 billion in revenue in 2017 – up 172% from 2016, with Switch hardware accounting for 60% of sales, according to industry data. That compared to 34% of PlayStation hardware revenue for Sony and 26% for Microsoft’s Xbox platform.

“Most remarkable is that Nintendo generated these revenues with hardware and full-game sales only,” video game research firm Newzoo said in a statement.

Indeed, Best Buy saw entertainment revenue top 8% ($3 billion) of domestic revenue, up from 7% ($2.5 billion) in 2016.

“It’s all related to Switch,” said Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

 

Amazon on Top in Harris Reputation Poll

Amazon took the top spot in the 2018 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient Rankings.

Disney ranked high at No. 5, and Netflix, at No. 21, beat out fellow tech giants Google and Apple, ranked Nos. 28 and 29, respectively.

Among mass merchant/consumer electronics retailers, Costco (No. 17) topped Best Buy (No. 46), Target (No. 49) and Walmart (No. 69).

According to Harris, the Reputation Quotient is “technically designed to understand how a company is perceived in modern culture.” The measure takes the top most visible companies (for good or bad reasons) and evaluates them across six dimensions of corporate reputation attributes to arrive at a corporate reputation ranking. If a company is not on the list, it does not necessarily suggest that they have either good or bad reputation, but rather they didn’t reach a critical level of visibility to be measured.

The Weinstein Co., which has been embroiled in executive Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assault scandal, and Takata, with its infamously defective airbags, came in last on the list at Nos. 99 and 100, respectively.

Apple, Disney and YouTube Top Millennial Brands in New Report

Apple, Disney and YouTube, respectively, ranked as the top three most “intimate” brands among millennials, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2018 Report, which is the largest study of brands based on emotions. Brand intimacy leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.

“We were surprised and pleased to see YouTube as an addition to the top three most intimate brands for millennials this year,” stated Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. “We believe its rise is due to our culture’s continued need for escape and the brand’s immediate, diverse content, personalities and growing offerings in movies and live TV. YouTube is clearly an established ritual in the lives of many millennials today.”

By comparison, in MBLM’s 2017 report, Disney placed first, followed by Amazon and Netflix.

The other brands that rounded out the top 10 were Target, Amazon, Nintendo, Google, Xbox, Netflix and Whole Foods.

The age group of 18-24-year-olds had a slightly different mix of top companies. The top 10 for that group were Apple, Amazon, YouTube, PlayStation, Starbucks, Nintendo, Google, Netflix, Coca Cola and Walmart.

The report analyzed the responses of 6,000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. The full report will be released on March 13, 2018.

Target Eyeing Packaged-Media Consignment Business Model

Big box retailer Target reportedly is planning to sell music CDs and DVDs on a consignment basis – rather than the typical wholesale bulk business model. The retailer would only pay studios for titles sold. Separately, Best Buy is stopping selling CDs this summer.

Citing sources, Billboard reported the national retailers are bowing to ongoing consumers trends away from packaged media and toward digital and subscription streaming services such as Movies Anywhere and Netflix.

Packaged media’s decline at Best Buy has been ongoing for years. CEO Hubert Joly cut back shelf space on DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies shortly after joining the consumer electronics retail chain in 2012.

Entertainment sales, which include packaged media, generated $509 million (6%) of third-quarter domestic sales – up 4.1% from the previous-year period. The percentage hasn’t changed much over the years.

For Target, the move underscores the retailer’s exit from digital retail three years ago when it shuttered — after 18 months — the Target Ticket platform with more than 30,000 movie and TV titles. At the time, Target transferred all digital consumers to CinemaNow – the digital retail platform once owned by Best Buy.

Target Ticket didn’t survive despite the retailer giving Redcard holders a 5% discount on purchases, excluding rental.

Meanwhile, Target announced that winter holiday sales from November through December grew 3.4% across its core merchandise categories, including home, apparel, food & beverage, hardlines and essentials. Entertainment wasn’t among them.

F.Y.E. Holiday Sales Slump 12%

The For Your Entertainment (f.y.e.) retail chain Jan. 4 reported a 12% decrease in winter holiday sales to $72 million for the nine-week period through Dec. 31, 2017, compared to $81.8 million in the previous-year period.

One of the last (primarily mall-based) entertainment retail chains in operation, f.y.e. saw segment revenue drop 21% when factoring in 7% decline in operating stores.

Corporate parent Trans World Entertainment Corp. said f.y.e. sales were further impacted by an underperforming box office, lower mall foot traffic, in addition to declining market demand for packaged media, among other factors.

“This negatively impacted our lifestyle categories as well,” CEO Mike Feurer said in a statement.

The CEO said f.y.e remains in the midst of “continued structural challenges” while redoubling efforts to differentiate entertainment merchandise and consumer experience.

“[We remain] focused on rightsizing our expenses and inventory levels,” he said.

Meanwhile, ecommerce subsidiary etailz.com, while sells merchandise largely through Amazon, saw revenue increase 42% to $36 million from $25.3 million last year.

Consolidated sales decreased 7% to $108 million, compared to $116.1 million last year.

For the 11 months in the fiscal year, consolidated sales increased 26% to $406 million from $322 million. F.Y.E. sales declined 15% to $248 million from $291.7 million. Etailz.com revenue topped $158 million.