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France's 2009 video market up, reversing 4-year decline

French sales of DVD and Blu-ray discs were up in 2009, reversing a downward trend over the previous four years, according to initial data from market research firm GfK. In value term, packaged media recorded an increase of 0.5% – against a 8% fall in 2008 – bringing in revenues of €1.38 billion.

In unit sales, the 2009 figure is 94 million, against 83 million the previous year, translating into an overall 12% growth.

Blu-ray did well. Volume sales hit 4.5 million units, a 135% increase over 2008 when the hi-def format recorded sales of 1.9 million discs. In value, BD generated revenues of €110 million, accounting for 8% of total video spending.

For its part, the volume of DVDs sold progressed nearly 10% to 90 million units curbing the fall in revenue to 4%. In 2008, DVD revenues dropped 10%.

In the meantime, video-on-demand continued its rise, with 2009 revenues topping €80 million, against €53 million in 2008.

The French video publishers association SEVN attributes this halting in the downward spiral of the video market – which lost a third of its value in four years – to the new (shorter) release windows (known as 'chronologie des médias') that permitted numerous titles to hit high-street shelves during Q4 2009. Successful marketing operations on catalogue titles as well as the progression of the Blu-ray format, are also factors seen to have reversed the trend.

“Market stabilization can only continue in 2010 if measures put in place to fight illegal Internet downloading are set in motion,” says SEVN.

HADOPI, the 'three-strikes' law which allows the imposition of punishments on those Internet users found to have illegally downloaded copyrighted content, scored an embarrassing own goal when the new agency logo, unveiled by the French Minister of Culture and Communication, was discovered to have been designed with unlicensed fonts. Hadopi swiftly repaired the damage by sourcing new matching fonts it could license legally.

Story filed 18.01.10

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