Media: DVD delivery market reaches limit

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DVD Unlimited has merged with Fatso and Movieshack after finding the home delivered DVD market isn't big enough for the three of them.

Sky Television started DVD Unlimited in 2004 - about the same time as its competitors - to attract consumers no longer in love with late fees at their video retailer. But Sky chief executive John Fellet says that videos are like books - the retail experience is part of the appeal - and the home-delivered DVD market was tiny.

"It's probably about the same size as two Blockbuster stores," he said, adding it would get smaller as new formats such as internet protocol television were introduced. The merger was revealed this week on video industry website www.dvdindustry.co.nz.

The new venture, called Screen Enterprises, is headed by Rob Berman of Fatso and the shareholdings are not equal.

But Fellet said it was a genuine merger and not a takeover by Sky's DVD Unlimited.

Sky research found that the DVD service appealed to two types of media consumers. Half were Sky subscribers who held all the Sky movie channels but wanted a wider choice.

The other half were non-Sky subscribers who did not have a lot of free time and wanted to watch a movie of their choice.

BRASS IN POCKET

Pornography publisher Steve Crow has scrapped Brass magazine after owning it for just seven months, saying the hard-core content under his reign was eating into advertising revenue for his established title NZX.

In any case, he said that he bought Brass from John Carr at Velocity Partners in November with the intention of selling it. Crow said the title had been published for more than a decade and he closed the magazine on Wednesday.

He said that when he took over the former lads' magazine in November, he moved the magazine from a quarterly to a monthly and shifted the format from soft to hard pornography.

Crow said that he considered various combinations of content with his hard porn title NZX but the two magazines were competing in the same market.

TV3-C4 TIES GROW

MediaWorks is integrating programming for TV3 and C4 to mark C4's shift from a music channel to one showing longer play programmes. TV3 marketing director Roger Beaumont said that trend - typified by critically acclaimed BBC shows as The Mighty Boosh - matched the transition for other youth channels. MTV in the US had goen through the same change. The revamp of the programming comes as Mediaworks secures access to Fox programming.

C4 has moved to channel 12 on the Sky digital platform - moving away from alternative channels such as Alt TV to be among mainstream channels.

TV3 programming director Kelly Martin is to oversee programming and scheduling of both channels, while C4 boss Andrew Szusterman will be associate director of programming across both channels with Mark Caulton. Szusterman will remain responsible for the day-to-day management of C4, and will also become involved in TV3's programming strategy.

AUCKLANDER CHANGE

APN News and Media has stepped back from full free distribution of its community paper The Aucklander and from July 17 will insert it into the New Zealand Herald.

The Aucklander will be inserted into all copies of the Thursday edition of the Herald across the Auckland region. It will also be available in other high-traffic locations including selected shopping malls, libraries and food halls.

The new editions of The Aucklander will be named The Aucklander - City distributed in the Central, Tamaki and Auckland City areas, The Aucklander - North Shore distributed on the North Shore, The Aucklander - Waitakere and The Aucklander - Manukau City including Papakura, APN said this week.

The change will make sense for APN in cutting back distribution costs for the title.

It will also come as a relief to Fairfax's Auckland community newspapers division, which will have less direct competition. The Aucklander was launched by APN in 2003 - in part with the expectation of taking real estate advertising away from ACP Magazines' Property Press. But that has not occurred. The change at The Aucklander coincides with other possible changes to the real estate advertising market, with both ACP and APN looking at new developments. ACP chief executive Paul Dykzeul confirmed that his company was looking at proposals for a new print publication.

SUNDAY MAKEOVER

Fairfax Media bosses are planning a makeover of the Sunday News, saying that new focus group marketing research has indicated ways to improve the tabloid. The paper has gone through some difficult times lately, in part with the Herald on Sunday eating into its Auckland circulation.

In the latest Nielsen Media Research survey, its readership dropped 49,000 to 324,000. Audited circulation had dropped by 10,215 from 2005 to 2007.

Fairfax Sunday's general manager Michael Richards dismissed a suggestion that the paper's future had been under debate. He said that changes were in place to change and improve the Sunday tabloid. He said that changes had been signalled in focus group research that had not been available previously.

EMAIL 'MALICIOUS'

Fairfax's Michael Richards has taken umbrage at an anonymous email distributed to Fairfax management in Auckland this week.

The document - obtained by this column - is critical of his past role as chief executive of the newspaper industry body Panpa from 2006 to 2007. Panpa has launched an inquiry into how the material was released. Richards is a former publisher of the Fiji Sun. The anonymous note - sent to senior Fairfax executives - included mostly innocuous details about the performance of Panpa but strongly worded comments that Richards said were "malicious and defamatory". He said some details in the email were not official Panpa documents. Richards said that the inquiry had already discovered what ISP address the allegations had come from.

ADS FOR SCHOOLS

Website developers Michael Lamb and Bret Gower are promoting Adhere for advertisers to reach low traffic and otherwise non-commercial sites. Lamb said they had spent the past year developing the scheme to generate revenue off sites such as schools and sports clubs.

"Adhere will be aggregating traffic from these sites. We are starting with 25 schools creating a usable lump [of users] and a welcoming page and it will be sold to brands. The schools will join the scheme for free and receive a share of the advertising revenue," Lamb said.

MOBILE MEDIA

Vodafone is trying to secure its dominance of the 3G mobile phone market in advance of Telecom introducing its new 3G service around November.

Telecom mobile users have been able to access broadband, but because of the technology for its CDMA format, the network has been unable to provide features such as downloading videos.

That will change when Telecom changes to a new WCDMA network, but Vodafone has been going all out to secure a big lead and recently developed a deal with Hyperfactory to develop advertising on mobile phones.

From July 28 Vodafone will introduce a new initiative providing a casual rate of $1 a day for a maximum of 10 megabytes without committing to a fixed monthly data contract.

Each MB after that costs $1.

- NZ Herald

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