Icon UK head Stewart Till has revealed his aim to level out the pricing disparity that impedes the growth of Blu-ray. Tim Murray reports
In his first presentation as the owner and CEO of Icon Film Distribution UK and Icon Entertainment International since acquiring the company in November 2009, Stewart Till announced a pricing strategy for its home-entertainment arm aimed at boosting the fledgling Blu-ray format.
The bold pricing move, a first in the UK home-entertainment sector, will see Icon’s DVD and Blu-ray releases carry the same dealer price for retailers from April. It is a move prompted by growing industry concern that Blu-ray, while enjoying growth, is not progressing as rapidly as many would like.
Speaking to UK home-entertainment retailers, Till also revealed his ambitious plans for the company, which he is aiming to model on one of his former companies, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. But while Till’s comments and the company’s forthcoming slate, which he claimed was the strongest so far, impressed those in attendance, it was the pricing plans that raised eyebrows.
“Parity at new release for DVD and Blu-ray gives a clearer proposition, increases format take up and we believe will increase total video revenues.”
Stewart Till, Icon UK
Many home-entertainment distributors and retailers have been privately complaining about the lack of parity in pricing between the well-established DVD and nascent Blu-ray formats, believing the lower price of the former is holding back the latter’s growth. Factor in retailer discounting, and a new blockbuster DVD can often be picked up for $11.50-13 (£7-£8) in the UK while its Blu-ray counterpart is closer to $41 (£25).
Icon’s move is arguably more straightforward than the policy favoured by some US studios, which involves offering up Blu-ray, DVD and portable-device friendly digital versions in one package, known as combi-packs.
Icon Home Entertainment’s general manager Ian Dawson says: “We want to offer a clear choice to our customers who want to see our films in the best possible way. Parity at new release for DVD and Blu-ray gives a clearer proposition, increases format take up and we believe will increase total video revenues for our films.”
“One of the things that amazes me is the industry doesn’t acknowledge DVD gives at least 50% of revenue.”
Stewart Till, Icon UK
Till said the slate was a “great launchpad” for the new Icon, one in which home entertainment will play a crucial part.
Till began his entertainment career at Fox’s video arm and has always been aware of the importance of ancillary. “One of the things that amazes me is the industry doesn’t acknowledge DVD gives at least 50% of revenue,” he says.
Till adds: “Part of the strategy is to recreate PolyGram, not for bizarre nostalgia reasons but to create a company to fill the gap between the studios, which have an awful lot of strengths, and single territory independent distributors.”
According to Till, the UK is the first piece of the jigsaw, before Icon sets its sights on either setting up operations or acquiring existing distributors in territories such as France, Germany, Spain and Russia with the aim of building a multi-territory distributor.
UK TOP 10 BLU-RAY TITLES IN 2009
|Transformers: Revange of The Fallen, Paramount Home Entertainment UK||227,846|
|Star Trek, Paramount Home Entertainment UK||227,347|
|Quantum of Solace, Fox Home Entertainment UK||217,338|
|The Dark Knight, Warner Bros Entertainment UK||117,990|
|Terminator Salvation, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment UK||158,648|
|Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Warner Bros Entertainment UK||143,910|
|Inglorious Basterds, Universal Pictures UK||117,993|
|Watchmen, Paramount Home Entertainment UK||101,604|
|X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fox Home Entertainment UK||89,272|
|Planet Earth: The Complete Saga, 2Eentertain||87,604|