What recession? Home vid bucks trend

Rentals and sales of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs show increases in first six months of the year

Data from DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales and rentals shows the home video business is holding upwell despite the down economy, the high price of gas and consumer shift toward the Internet.

Consumer spending on DVDs and Blu-ray in the first six months of the year, purchases and rentals combined, was up 1.6% from spending in first-half 2007, according to Home Media Magazine's market research department. The first-half 2008 tally: $10.77 billion, compared with $10.6 billion a year ago.

Spending on disc purchases rose 1.1%, from $6.8 billion to $6.87 billion. Rental spending rose 2.6% from $3.8 billion in the first six months of last year to $3.9 billion, according to Home Media Magazine market research calculations.

Unit sales were up a 1.1%, with consumers buying an estimated 412.3 million discs in the first six months of the year, up from 407.9 million discs in first-half 2007, according to studio reports.

Unit sales of Blu-ray Discs in first-half 2008 were up 340% from the first six months of 2007, according to Nielsen VideoScan data. Nielsen numbers are based on point-of-sale data from most big retail chains except Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. Factoring in Blu-ray Disc sales at those two retail chains, studio estimates peg the number of Blu-ray Discs sold in the first half at 7.4 million units.

The year's top-selling DVD was Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks," which sold about 5.3 million units, according to Home Media Magazine. Disney's "Enchanted" was second, with an estimated 4.8 million units, followed by Warner's "I Am Legend" at No. 3 (4.2 million units), Paramount's "Bee Movie" at No. 4 (3.9 million units) and Disney's "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" at No. 5 (3.8 million units). These figures do not include sales to rental dealers, which can boost total unit sales significantly; all in, "Alvin" has sold more than 7 million DVDs.

The top renters: Lionsgate's "3:10 to Yuma" at No. 1, followed by "I Am Legend," Paramount's "No Country for Old Men," Universal's "American Gangster" and Lionsgate's "Good Luck Chuck."

"I Am Legend" is the top-selling HD disc release of the year. (partialdiff)