UK DVD sales catching the US

Why has America got a bigger DVD movie library than us? Ok, so we're used to being second place for film releases, but it may surprise you to know that the U.K. is now racing ahead with the technology
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

DVD started to be taken seriously in America about three years ago and now offers around 3,000 titles. However, even in the techno-mad U.S. it was slow to take off -- after its first year only 50 titles were released.

At home DVD didn't get going until 1998 but figures suggest take-up in the U.K. will be far quicker than in America. Initial interest in the UK was "tragic" according to Bryan Welsh, managing director of DVDplus, forcing the industry to relaunch in October.

Since then things have looked up for British film buffs and there are around 300 movies currently available with at least 1000 expected by the end of the year. "If you consider that it is only a year since DVD was launched in the U.K. After a whole year in the U.S. there was only 50 titles available that gives an idea of the momentum behind DVD now," he said. "The statistics show DVD is the fastest growth of any entertainment medium, much faster than vinyl to CD," he added.

Hardware also had a wobbly start -- the first six months saw only about 10,000 set top boxes sold in the UK. By year end about 40,000 players had shipped with experts predicting a figure of around 200,000 in 1999.

IDC analyst Bob Peyton predicts 4.8 million PC DVD units will be shipped in 1999, thought to represent around 10 percent of the worldwide ROM market (CD ROM and DVD ROM).

Penetrating Europe

  • DVD penetration of the ROM market grew to about 7 percent in 1998 compared to 0.5 percent at the beginning of the year.
  • 1 million DVD ROM drives were sold in Europe in 1998, 70 percent in the last quarter.
  • European sales of DVD units are strong and experts agree it is only a matter of time before all computers come pre-installed with a DVD drive rather than a CD ROM. "Everyone predicts CD ROM sales will be dead by end 2001" says Franco de Bonis, European brand manager of Creative.

    But DVD units are typically 3 times more expensive than their CD ROM cousins and according to Ken Page department manager at Hitachi there are still thousands of CD units coming from Korea, blocking DVD's entry. "For PC manufacturers to hit price points they are opting for CD ROMs," Page said.

    Take me to the DVD Basement.

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