UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- The children's category is the key to building special interest video sales in supermarkets, said Louis Feola, president of MCA Home Video here. Supermarkets have to be selective in buying special interest titles and children's tapes represent the greatest opportunity for sales, Feola told SN following a panel meeting at the fifth annual convention of the Special Interest Video Association, held here last month. MCA is also based here. "The greatest potential for supermarkets is in the kidvid category. You are dealing with retail shelf space and turn rates. Right now, supermarkets have to concentrate on that to make video a category they will support 365 days of the year," said Feola. This emphasis on children's video should be short-term, he said. "They should remain open to opportunistic situations, specifically when there are products that are cross-marketed with other products that they have in their stores. Then they can make a big promotion even bigger," he said. Consumer interest in viewing a product multiple times remains a crucial element in sell-through success, whether for a special interest title or a feature film, said Feola during the panel discussion. "There has to be the repeatability factor or the consumer will not be motivated to spend money. That is why films like 'Jurassic Park' and 'Snow White' sell as well as they do. They are highly repeatable movies," he said. Collectible titles also do well, noted Feola, "but they don't sell at the same rate as repeatable movies." Multi-title special interest brands, like "Buns of Steel" and the Red Book fitness series, are doing almost as well as better known individual titles, said George Port, president of Video Treasures, Troy, Mich. Video Treasures is a division of Handleman Co. "If you look at the children's sales chart, you will find the same thing," he said. After the big hits, three brands now dominate this category: "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," "Barney" and "Thomas the Tank Engine." Compact disk read-only memory will help suppliers build on these brands, said Port. "It will allow us to take some of the franchises that we own and expand them. We'd love the opportunity to take 'Thomas the Tank Engine' to another dimension," he said. Children's educational products will fare better on CD-ROM than they are now doing on video, he said. "There is very little price resistance to some of that programming that is now in the marketplace. People are willing to spend an extraordinary amount of money for the benefit of their children and their families," said Port. "We just need to get the product out there and get it where that consumer is. That consumer is not necessarily in the computer store right now," he said. "We are in the business of making people feel good. We sell happiness. "When people come into a store, they want to do something better for themselves or for a loved one, or for a friend. They give us our money to do that. That is a great privilege, but it also is a great obligation," said Port. So far, though, children's educational videocassettes have not sold as well as entertainment products, said Port. "There is plenty of good product out there, but we have not been very successful in making it work in the marketplace," he said. The CD-ROM market will be very risky for the near future, noted MCA's Feola. Many new technologies are being talked about now, such as the information superhighway, video on demand, new video game systems, computers used as televisions and CD-ROM. "All of these things are unknown and untested. There's going to be a lot of money made and a lot of money lost," he said. There will be "an incredible number" of CD-ROM product failures, he said, "because they are not positioned right, or packaged right or just because there is not enough shelf space."