For the 12th consecutive year new DVD and Blu-ray product release have exceeded the 12,000 mark.
With some stragglers certain to boost the final totals, new DVD SKUs for calendar year 2015 currently stand at 10,017 (that’s down from last year’s count of 10,902, representing a decline of 8.12 percent). As for the Blu-ray format, the first-blush number is 2,134 new releases (a 3.95 percent jump over last year’s total of 2,053 new product offerings) — that’s a format record, eclipsing the 2013 high water mark by 34.
Roughly 83 percent of the decline in new DVD releases (on a year-over-year basis) is centered in just three categories — Direct to Video Feature Films, Special Interest and Movies Made For Television (MOWs). These three groups account for 734 of the overall drop of 885 new DVD SKUs.
The Direct to Video category had something of a release “bubble” during 2013 and 2014, rising to 1,483 and 1,427 new releases respectively from a very stable eight-year average of 1,210 new Direct to Video Features Films releases making their way to DVD. The 2015 count of 1,259 is more in line with the 2005 to 2012 average, as opposed to a sudden drop in demand for this non-theatrical staple.
The decline of 18.7 percent in the Special Interest category seems to be directly related to the rise of DVD-R usage among independent suppliers. Amazon tends to dump a hundred or more DVD-R releases into the product mix each week and it appears that more and more independents are being squeezed into joining that parade. It’s a tough road (competitively-speaking) to go through the process of having product professionally manufactured in the face of Amazon’s weekly product dumps of dubious origin.
The MOW decline seems certain to be related to the exhaustion of library elements.
On the bright side, Theatrical Catalog (movies released theatrically prior to 1997), showed a robust 42.8 percent jump over the 2014 output — much of this growth having to do to with the release of newly-restored titles that have gone out of print.
New Theatrical releases also showed a modest gain of eight percent.
As for the Blu-ray format, 66.4 percent of all release activities is confined to the various Feature Film categories — New Theatrical, Theatrical Catalog, Foreign Language and Direct to Video. Basically, outside of the Music, New TV Series and Anime groups, the balance of the product categories (some very popular with DVD) — Special Interest, Fitness, Magic and Religion are simply not used for Hi-DEF releases (DVD works just fine).
While the move from VHS to DVD was earthshaking, the addition of the Blu-ray format — beginning in 2006 — has never registered quite the same on the home entertainment Richter Scale. The SKU count has been hovering around the 2,100 annual release mark for the past 36 months; remarkably stable, but hardly anything to write home about.