More than 90 million DVD players are now in U.S. television homes, according to Sean Bersell, VP of public affairs for the Video Software Dealers Association.
“TV on DVD has so many advantages,” he said. “You can watch any part of a program when you want to watch it.”
Ancillary market revenue from DVD sales has become more important to TV networks than VHS ever was. Fox Home Entertainment has more than 50 TV titles on DVD, with some of its higher-priced boxed sets selling for $150. Steve Feldstein, a spokesman for Fox, said the studio is reaching back into its vaults for older product such as “In Living Color,” which will be released April 6 on DVD. “People are begging for it,” he said.
At HBO, with its more limited viewership, DVD sales have been extremely strong. Sales of ancillary products now represent about a quarter of HBO’s revenue, said spokesman Jeff Cusson.
In 2003 HBO had the largest-selling TV-on-DVD title, “Band of Brothers,” which brought in $43.9 million and moved 540,000 units. The fourth season of “The Sopranos” was the fifth-largest-selling TV-on-DVD title, selling 286,000 units and bringing in $21.8 million, followed by sixth-place “Sex and the City,” which did almost as well.
HBO believes these numbers are low, and that official tallies undercount revenue from big stores, such as Wal-Mart, which don’t report sales consistently.