At the just concluded Los Angeles Entertainment Summit, I was struck by how much enthusiasm there is for our industry and how people were enjoying themselves again. I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and exclaimed, “This is great. It’s just like the old VSDA convention days.”
I share the nostalgia for the “go-go” days of home video, and I think today is pretty good, too.
Perhaps we got spoiled in the early days of DVD, when it seemed like every title shipped more than a million units and the profits just rolled in, and the launches of disc-based video game consoles that served as entertainment centers. Clearly, the kind of growth the industry experienced then could not continue indefinitely. But if the early days of DVD and the “next-generation” consoles saw “irrational exuberance” in our industry, I think the years following the leveling off of DVD and video game sales saw “irrational malaise.”
The business was never as challenged as the analysts, journalists, and armchair commentators would have the public believe. Today, I see a recognition that ours is a healthy industry that has much to celebrate.
DVD sales remain a major profit center for the motion picture studios, even if they are no longer a license to print money. Blu-ray was successfully launched and has become a staple in millions of homes. iVOD and EST are growing nicely. And physical rental continues to provide millions of consumers with a video option.
Video game software sales, to be sure, have seen some precipitous declines, but that is due to aging consoles more than anything else. With major new consoles about to be released, everybody anticipates that sales will rebound.
This positive view was evident at LAES. Business-to-business meeting rooms were buzzing with discussions about product, both physical and digital, and managing the category. The Knowledge Exchange sessions on industry research and supply chain issues were well-attended. Attendees were wowed by new technologies at the Tech Tour (personally, I was amazed by the augmented reality display!). And old friends were catching up and new business contacts were being made in the hallways and at Casino Night, the Cocktail Party, and the Golf Tournament.
EMA is pleased that we could play a role in bringing the industry back together to celebrate our successes (and help raise more than $600,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation). Because we have a lot to celebrate. We are in a period of sustained profitability, and I think on the cusp of some significant growth.
It may be that, at some time in the future, we will look back on these days and say these were the good old days. So, for the time being, let’s enjoy the good new days.
Originally published in Home Media Magazine, August 5, 2013