Top DVD execs share successful strategies


These home entertainment leaders have unique strategies for success

Ron Sanders, Warner Home Video
(2006 market share: 18.4%*): A shrewd numbers guy, Sanders runs a tight and efficient ship, balancing new initiatives and innovative marketing with a keen sense of cost management. Among his peers, he's known for being a steady hand in an increasingly topsy-turvy business. His mantra: Find out what the consumer wants and act accordingly.

Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
(16.1%): A natural leader, Chapek has turned the Walt Disney Co.'s home entertainment division into a consistent and reliable moneymaker that last year was responsible for the three top-selling DVDs of 2006: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Cars" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." A passionate believer in Blu-ray Disc, Chapek in May gave the nascent next-generation format a big boost when he released the first two "Pirates" films on Blu-ray just as installment No. 3 debuted in theaters.

Mike Dunn, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
(15%*): With MGM now under his studio's auspices and such early-in-the-year hits as the 2006 theatrical releases "Night at the Museum" and "Borat," Dunn commands a DVD empire that for the first six months of this year was a solid No. 2 in market share. Dunn has a long history of video overperformers to his credit, and he was among the first studio executives to realize and then reap the benefits of a carefully managed and monitored supply chain. Indeed, when its backroom arrangement with Lionsgate is factored in, Fox in the first half of this year was the No. 1 home entertainment supplier from the retailer perspective, with 22.3% of sales and $1.2 billion in consumer spending.

Craig Kornblau, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
(12.4%): Earlier this year, the king of event marketing became one of just two home entertainment division presidents with both packaged and digital media under their domain. Kornblau has gone against the tide by committing only to the underdog HD DVD next-generation format, insisting it's a better proposition for consumers than rival Blu-ray Disc because it is cheaper and easier to produce and based on the proven DVD platform. Meanwhile, on the standard DVD front, Kornblau continues to blaze trails with his hugely successful "American Pie" and "Bring It On" direct-to-video sequels and savvy franchise and catalog marketing strategies.

David Bishop, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
(13.2%): Since taking the reins of Sony from elder statesman Benjamin Feingold last September, Bishop has largely adopted a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude, keeping in place many of Feingold's top lieutenants and adopting his role as an oft-quoted spokesman for the Blu-ray Disc camp. But Bishop's previous tenure as president of catalog-rich MGM Home Entertainment brought to Sony both a fresh perspective and a whole new skill set, and one of his first big triumphs came earlier this year when the 2006 theatrical release "Casino Royale" became the first Blu-ray title to ship more than 100,000 units.

Kelley Avery, Paramount Home Entertainment
(12.2%*): In her second year as worldwide president of home entertainment for Paramount Pictures, Avery has a string of chart-topping video overperformers under her belt. Last year the division, which now distributes DreamWorks product as well as its own, generated more than $3 billion in consumer spending for the first time in studio history. And observers say credit is owed to Avery's strong and visionary leadership, as well as the crack marketing team she's assembled.

Steve Beeks, Lionsgate
(5.2%): This executive has just signed a new multiyear contract with Lionsgate and taken on additional duties as COO, a testament to what Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer calls his "strategic vision and superb tactical execution." Observers aren't surprised: Under Beeks, Lionsgate has been catapulted into the ranks of the mini-majors with a string of video hits ranging from the films in the gruesome "Saw" trilogy to 2006's best picture winner, "Crash," not to mention movies from writer-director-performer Tyler Perry. Beeks was aggressively seeking out content -- and building market share -- long before distribution channels widened and other indies began playing the same game. Other executives now openly admit it is their goal to become "the next Lionsgate."

Stephen Einhorn, New Line Home Entertainment
(3.4%): The longest-serving studio home entertainment division president, Einhorn has been on the job for 17 years, a tenure marked by consistent innovation. Direct-to-video sequels might be the latest rage in Hollywood, but Einhorn pioneered the concept back in the early 1990s with the "Poison Ivy" franchise. Special features on DVD? Einhorn recognized the potential from the get-go, and New Line DVDs continue to break new ground. He might have served the longest, but his ideas still tend to be the freshest -- and his strategies the most successful.

*Market shares include distributed lines: New Line and HBO for Warner, MGM for Fox and DreamWorks for Paramount.


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