Blu-Light Special: Charles Piper

Jun 26, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The player: Charles Piper, president and chief operating officer of DVDPlay.
The play: Mr. Piper, a veteran of the supermarket industry, joined the No. 3 U.S. movie-rental kiosk operator earlier this month, just in time for the closely held company to start including Blu-ray discs in some of its machines. The company, which plans to more than double its U.S. kiosks to about 3,200 this year, this month started testing high-definition discs in about 60 kiosks, charging the same $1.49 it does for its standard discs.
The pitch: DVDPlay, which trails Redbox and TNR/Moviecube among U.S. movie kiosk operators, is part of an industry that is estimated to triple in sales from last year to $800 million in 2010 as rental chain-store sales drop more than 40% to about $3.1 billion, according to Convergence Consulting Group. DVDPlay, which doesn’t disclose annual revenue, is also the first kiosk operator to rent out Blu-ray discs, having reached an agreement with Sony Pictures. “The consumers are starting to demand this type of convenience,” Mr. Piper says. “It’s a great opportunity for us.”
The challenges: Kiosk movie renters aren’t usually the early adopters that are quickest to buy Blu-ray machines or discs. The company also is competing against Redbox, which plans to have about 11,000 North American kiosks by the end of next year, up from 7,900 at the end of the first quarter. Redbox, which said in May that it will file for an initial public offering by the end of the month, doesn’t stock Blu-ray discs.

: Mr. Piper, 37, started working in grocery stores at age 16 and most recently was an executive with Safeway and Safeway marketing unit Blackhawk for about eight years. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California and graduated from Regis University in Denver.

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