The European View of the American Market for Adult DVD

Q. Boyer

It’s no secret that in recent years, the market for adult DVDs has decreased substantially, due to improvements in the delivery of online video content, the ongoing migration by consumers to viewing content on mobile devices and profligate online piracy of DVD content.

Like their American counterparts, European producers and distributors have watched their sales numbers in the U.S. market decline steadily, relegating their once-mighty DVD revenue streams to a much lower rung on their revenue stream totem pole. Perhaps surprisingly, though, the American DVD market is not quite as dead as one might assume.

Indeed, we have greatly developed our global distribution network, and it more than ever shows a great feeling of belonging to our brand and a strong demand for high-quality productions, whether from our distributors or from the consumers. -Adeline Anfray Press Officer for Marc Dorcel

“We are very pleased with the performance of the Dorcel line in the United States,” Adeline Anfray, the press officer for French studio Marc Dorcel, told XBIZ. “While the adult DVD market in general is not a growing segment today, we continue to see growth with the Dorcel line specifically.”

Dorcel’s movies are distributed in the U.S. by Wicked Pictures. The most important aspects of the Dorcel line’s continued success, Anfray said, are the elements that differentiate their content from much of the rest of the adult market.

“Exotic European locations, beautiful performers that are not overshot, high production values, and an overall attention to quality have deservedly helped Dorcel generate tremendous brand loyalty in today’s marketplace,” Anfray said. “Indeed, we have greatly developed our global distribution network, and it more than ever shows a great feeling of belonging to our brand and a strong demand for high-quality productions, whether from our distributors or from the consumers.”

In a sector facing as many challenges as does the current American market for adult DVDs, managing one’s expectations is an important piece of the puzzle. Producers shouldn’t anticipate filling their coffers on the strength of DVD sales alone; rather they should view DVD as one small component of a very large and variegated space.

Nick Spillum, a director for the respected Viv Thomas brand, concurred with this notion, saying that “DVD is still a market that is worth considering,” and citing the importance of establishing a relationship with a quality U.S. distributor.

“After securing a great deal with Girlfriend Films as our new distributor, things have increased tremendously,” Spillum said. “We’re doing really well.”

Harmony UK CEO Chris Norman said that the state of the American market for DVD is a constant topic of conversation between Harmony and its U.S. distributor Zero Tolerance Entertainment, with whom Harmony enjoys a “healthy relationship.”

“The answer, directly, is DVDs seem to have hit a rock-bottom floor in terms of distribution numbers,” Norman said. “I feel encouraged that it does seem to be a floor, though. It still yields profit and possibly potential growth as studios disappear and leave the remaining DVD consumers with less selection.”

Echoing her peers with respect to the importance of maintaining a solid relationship with an American distributor, Private Media Marketing Manager Karen van Dael told XBIZ that Private is “delighted with our principal relationship with Pure Play Media, given the market tendencies overall for physical media,” but emphasized that DVD is a minor market for Private at this stage in the game.

“DVD only represents a minute percentage of our North American sales which are composed principally by our broadcast, VOD and pay-site revenues,” van Dael said.

Like Anfray, Third World Media President Steve Scott said that his company’s numbers have bucked the trends in the market, and credited his products’ uniqueness for that better-thansector-average performance, and noted that some producers might want to take a look at their own marketing and distribution practices before laying too much blame at the feet of an unhealthy market.

“Our sales have been steady despite the fact that the market overall has seemed to decline,” Scott said. “The fact we are different than others tends to help when times are tough. It also helps when you do not release the exact same content repackaged 12 different ways.”

While the consensus among the European producers who spoke to XBIZ for this article is that the market for DVD has indeed declined significantly, and will likely continue to do so, all still agreed that DVD remains worthwhile as a medium, one still capable of producing profit — albeit not at the level seen between the late 90s and mid-aughts.

As with any market, differentiating your product is crucial to maximizing return on investment — and simply churning out endless strings of gonzo fare on DVD probably won’t do much to extend the lifespan of your hard media product lines. In short, if you want the market to be good to you, you must in turn be good to the market.

“Harmony is committed to a quality fantasy product which still seems to harness interest beyond just the amateur market,” Harmony’s Norman told XBIZ. “We plan on turning a few dials and flicking a few switches to fine-tune our content and see if we can’t get a larger share of this shrunken DVD market. At this stage we don’t view DVD as going the way of VHS and we’re committed to continue to service and find ways to improve our DVD market share.”

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