UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- Special-interest video is on the verge of a "new era" driven by technology and increased consumer demand, said Jeffrey Eves, president of the Video Software Dealers Association, Los Angeles. "New formats, new marketing tools, technological advancements and the public's acceptance of video as an educational medium all bode well for the future of special-interest video," he said. Eves spoke at the fifth annual convention of the Special Interest Video Association, Norwalk, Conn., held here last month. "The groundwork is being laid for a new era in special-interest video. This will be driven not just by technological change, but by a new generation of Americans who look to video products to provide not only entertainment, but also education, information and counsel on a wide range of topics from diet and exercise to knitting and fishing, from archaeology and paleontology to child rearing and family budgeting," said Eves. Special interest is making inroads in supermarket video sections, Eves noted during his talk. For example, when he visited Stop & Shop, Boston, he found that the retailer is emphasizing the category in its stand-alone video stores. "They have devoted an entire wall to special-interest video. Even more impressive, the manager told me the special-interest videos were selling and renting quite well indeed," he said. Recent statistics also demonstrate the growth of special interest, said Eves. Supplier revenues from exercise videos are up 15% from 1991, with how-to tapes increasing 32% in that period, sports videos growing 78%, music videos going up 30% and children's videos rising 49%. The children's category will top $1 billion by 1995, he said. "Previously relegated to the periphery of what was once almost an exclusively hit-driven business, video stores and their customers have now embraced the genres of children's videos, exercise, music, sports and how-to videos," said Eves. VSDA and SIVA have been discussing ways the two groups could work together for their mutual benefit, he noted. Among the ideas talked about were a "Home Video Annex" plan to bring special-interest video into a larger number of retail stores and holding joint chapter meetings, he said. "Technological advancements, the increasing size and diversity of the home entertainment store, and the consumer demand for more and more product will help VSDA and SIVA in our joint efforts to expand the market for special-interest video, and increase both your profits and the profits of our retail members," said Eves. The next five years will see continued growth and change for home video, particularly for sell-through and special interest, he said. "Our industry is presently undergoing a fundamental transformation, with video retail stores fast becoming home entertainment stores," he said. "Products such as video games and CDs are becoming an increasingly important component of the video store product mix. Also, innovations like NewLeaf's Game Factory will make it possible for video retailers to always have the video games consumers want, to never run out of stock and never be stuck with a game that doesn't sell or rent," he said. Eves was referring to NewLeaf Entertainment, Deerfield Beach, Fla., a joint venture of Blockbuster Entertainment Corp., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and IBM, Armonk, N.Y., which is developing a system for the in-store electronic delivery and manufacture of video games and other software. Entertainment software based on five-inch compact discs and computerized product recommendation systems also will help video retailers become home entertainment and home education stores, he said.
In his talk, Eves cited several recent reports on how the video market is growing. Numbers from Paul Kagan Associates, Carmel, Calif., show that the video business will reach $14.4 billion this year -- $9.4 billion for rental and $5 billion for sell-through. This is an 8.9% increase over Kagan's 1993 numbers.