Clock keeps ticking for TV series on DVD

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Now that TV-DVD is an established business, studios are tackling a new challenge: how to maintain sales throughout a series' DVD life.

Season 1 sets typically sell best, with a gradual decline for each successive season, according to Home Media Magazine's market research department. Sometimes the drop-off is so pronounced that the studio pulls the plug; more often, they ratchet up the marketing.

To promote Tuesday's release of "24 Season 5," 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has created an exclusive Web site that will screen new footage about the show for 24 consecutive weeks -- but only for buyers of the DVD.

The Web site can be accessed only by inserting a DVD-ROM -- which comes with the "24 Season 5" DVD -- into a computer. Each week, the site will screen new three- to five-minute segments that range from behind-the-scenes interviews and mini-documentaries on the day-to-day workings of the "24" production departments to "making of" clips from the show's sixth season, which is scheduled for a two-part premiere Jan. 14 and 15.

The site launches the day the DVD streets, with a special introduction from director Jon Cassar plus a tour of the "24" studios and the Counter Terrorist Unit set.

"We know that viewers look forward to each new installment of the show, and now they can delve deeper into the world of '24' with an exclusive insider's experience," Fox senior vp marketing Todd Rowan said.

Last year, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment upped the marketing ante for Seasons 5 and 6 of "Seinfeld," bundling the two-season sets into a special gift set that came with a copy of the handwritten script and a collectible miniature replica of the famed "puffy shirt" Jerry Seinfeld wore in one of the show's most infamous episodes.

For Season 7, which recently came out, Sony got a boost in awareness from Michael Richards' racially charged rant at the Laugh Factory and subsequent apology during Seinfeld's appearance on "Late Show With David Letterman" to promote the DVD. This week, the Rev. Jesse Jackson urged the public to boycott the DVD.
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