10 Things We Learnt At The ERA AGM

Monday, September 23 2013
10 Things We Learnt At The ERA AGM

The AGM of the Entertainment Retailers’ Association, held at the BPI’s offices overlooking the Thames and, beyond that, the Houses of Parliament, offered a fascinating snapshot of not just the video industry but its entertainment counterparts in games, music and beyond. It took in the current state of the nation, as well as offering glimpses of piracy and other elements.

Here’s a snapshot, then, of that snapshot, a look at 10 things we learnt at the event…

1. There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful
In a tub-thumping presentation, BVA director general painted a picture of an industry far from being on the ropes. “The public’s appetite for film grows steadily,” she said, looking at figures from IHS which showed that the total filmed entertainment market in the UK was now worth £11 billion, up more than £3 billion on the figure 10 years ago. “The video business,” Carey continued, “is far from being a sector in decline.”

2. The total marketing spend on video product in Q4 2013 will top £40 million
According to BVA estimates, more than £40 million will be spent on marketing DVD, Blu-ray and digital releases in the final quarter. That takes in all forms, from in-store theatre through to big TV campaigns and promotional activity. What’s more, it’s potentially a far higher figure than this too, as the estimates are predominantly based on figures from BVA members. It was one of what BVA director general Lavinia Carey concluded were a whole host of “reasons to be cheerful”. It’s also worth noting that Geoff Taylor, ceo if the BPI, revealed similarly positive figures too.

3. Innovation is key for the video business
With Blu-ray sales up almost 50 per cent, Ultraviolet just around the corner (February next year is the current date), tablet sales soaring and digital services growing at a healthy rate, new technology is, as ever, continuing to lead the way for our business. “Innovation is thriving in the audio visual sector,” said BVA director general Lavinia Carey.

4. Video consumers are browsers
According to Kantar Worldpanel figures presented by the BVA, some 57 per cent of consumers like to browse through titles before they buy product, a figure that’s far higher than that for either music or games. It shows that choice is still essential for punters – 25 per cent see range of DVDs as a factor in deciding which grocer to use, said Lavinia Carey in her presentation. And that range was helping both new release and Blu-ray enjoy an uplift in 2013, up 10 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.

5. Films are crucial to consoles too
Movies, whether accessed through online stores or services such as Netflix, are integral to both the forthcoming next generation consoles. As Microsoft’s director of retail sales and marketing Jonathan Grimes said: “Movies and music are a big part of what we do.” And, as was later revealed by ERA’s Kim Bayley, those two launches along could be worth more than £1 billion to the entertainment industry. What’s more, the arrival of the next generation consoles will bring footfall into stores too.

6. ERA is changing to reflect the changing market
Where the organisation has succeeded in recent years is in shifting the way it works, as the world becomes more digital, so does ERA. As director general Kim Bayley noted: “We are seeing a redefinition of what entertainment retailing is. Our members used to be defined by their activity, they were retailers of entertainment. Increasingly, they are defined by their position in the value chain as the final intermediaries between content companies and the consumer.
“The effect of that redefinition is to broaden the scope of our membership as never before. There is still work to be done, however. There are a number of high profile names that have yet to sign up and we continue to pursue them. Most notably we would like to encourage Sky, Apple and Steam to work data and provide greater access to streaming with the other entertainment retailers in their sector on many of our day-to-day issues such as data collection and redefining the entertainment landscape. The focus of ERA activities continues to be to support member understanding of new business models and continue to promote and support both established and new retailers within music, games and video markets.”

7. The Industry Trust is working harder, to drive better value for its members
The Industry Trust’s Liz Bales outlined many of piracy problems facing the industry and talked about its work in educating the public, with initiatives such as FindAnyFilm.com and Moments Worth Paying For. She also discussed the changing way it is doing that work. “The Trust has to work harder, driving value for its member’s contributions. We’re trying to connect audiences with legal content, infringers are open to persuasion.

8. Google is beginning to work better to stamp out piracy
Despite coming under fire from the MPAA again this week, and after initially appearing to be somewhat less helpful, Google at last appears to be helping the authorities fight against piracy. As David Wood, director of anti-piracy at the BPI noted, in 2011, some 75,192 links to illegal content were delisted – this year it’s above 24 million. Wood spoke about the work of the new PIPCU anti-piracy unit at the City Of London police, where 70 file-sharing sites had been targeted around the world and sent letters warning the, Some 14 stopped trading or distributing, five sites came down and two voluntarily blocked visitors from the UK, all in reaction to the unit’s letter. They were also targeting advertisers and domain name registrars. Blocking actions were continuing, with more due.

9. The campaign for the 2015 general election has already started…
Susie Winter, from the Alliance For IP, talked about the organisation’s lobbying work. It’s a constant plate spinning task, keeping an eye on at least four bits of legislation at various stages, including the Digital Economy Act – still head up in the Treasury, meeting MPS. Politicians and civil servants to educate them about copyright. Every victory is tempered with other problems – although the current government is improving in its attitude towards IP, while the current Labour opposition appear to “get it”. Beyond that, the Alliance’s Susie Winter said: “We’re building support ahead of the 2015 general election.” It is launching its own manifesto, IP2020, outlining what it’d like to see a next government do. Winter concluded: “We’re connecting with and influencing political parties’ thinking, building a pro-IP voice.”

10. Research is key
As ERA’s research expert Luke Butler told the attendees: “It’s vital for us to understand consumer behaviour.” ERA is working on tracking research, regularly speaking to more than 2,000 consumers and assessing how the use the “abundance” of digital services and on what technological devices they have. Nick Francis from partner Fly Research unveiled some of these, which should prove to be as interesting as it is useful for video, games and music industries. More on this in coming weeks…

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