FUNimation has put a new spin on DVDs, trading in the full-length disk format for an inexpensive, shorter and infinitely more collectible version. DVD Singles are mini-DVDs (about three inches in diameter) that work in standard players and have just enough capacity for one 22-minute episode and a couple minutes of previews.
The first line of 16 disks – featuring eps from action-adventure series like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Dragon Ball GT, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Sonic X – launched this July in the usual mass channels (Target and Toys ‘R’ Us), as well as in front counter displays at 7-Eleven, which already does big business in collectible card games. By August, sell-through rates at the mighty convenience chain were hovering between 30% and 40%.
With a low price-point of US$3.99, the disks target what FUNimation director of home video sales Tony Vandeveerdonk calls the pocket-change demo (kids ages nine to 14), and they’re being merchandised alongside trading cards and collectible card games.
‘I wanted to take the Singles out of the traditional home entertainment area because I feel strongly that they are impulse items, and there are brands in series one that have a lot of collectible card game synergy,’ says Vandeveerdonk. ‘In fact, early POS data shows that the Yu-Gi-Oh! and DragonBall GT disks are selling the best, which coincides with what’s happening in the collectible cards category.’ Merchandising the mini-disks as an impulse buy also lowers the chance that sales will cut into revenue from regular home entertainment lines.
Though the DVD Singles are selling at one-third the price of a regular DVD, that ratio doesn’t stand up when it comes to the manufacturing process. ‘The profit margins are tight; it’s not quite as expensive to produce the Singles as it is to produce a normal DVD, but it’s not far off,’ says Vandeveerdonk. ‘But the idea is to capture the audience and sell to a completely different customer. The person that buys collectible cards may not necessarily be buying these brands on DVD and VHS.’
FUNimation is already busy putting together a second series for November, and it will feature new episodes from some of the first-phase properties, as well as a couple of brand-new series that target the same demo. Vandeveerdonk says he’s also looking to expand the line’s retail presence into department stores such as Kohl’s and JCPenney, plus deep-discount channels like Dollar General.