Content Providers, Retailers, Tech Firms to Convene at EMA’s Digital Media Pipeline

August 25, 2011 · Posted in M&E Connections, M&E Daily · Comments Off 

EMA’s Digital Media Pipeline conference, the one-day conference focusing on business-to-business opportunities in the digital delivery of home entertainment to the consumer, will feature speakers from leading digital entertainment companies, content providers, retailers, and research firms. The conference will be held on September 7 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Executives from the following companies are scheduled to present at the event: Best Buy; Cisco; DDEX; Deluxe Digital; DISH Network; Dolby Laboratories; EIDR; Fandor; Futuresource Consulting; GoDigital Media Group; Hewlett Packard; Image Entertainment; Lionsgate; Microsoft; Neustar; NPD Group; Rentrak; Roku; Sling Media; TAG Strategic; Viva Film Co.; and Western Digital.

The theme of Digital Media Pipeline is “Network, Collaborate, and Discover!” This year’s program will include the following sessions:

  • “The Business Models of Today and Tomorrow”
  • “It’s All About the Content”
  • “The Digital Supply Chain – Growing Sales and Profit Through Efficiency”
  • “Viewing Choices – Multiple Screens For Everyone”
  • “The Future of Digitally Delivered Entertainment.”

There is also ample time allocated to networking, including the “Skip the Traffic” cocktail party.

“This year’s Digital Media Pipeline will feature an incredibly knowledgeable and diverse set of speakers who will bring valuable perspectives to the discussion,” EMA President & CEO Bo Andersen notes. “These speakers have been chosen because they are effective catalysts for sharing learnings from the retail, distribution, aggregator, content owner, and technology and service provider segments.”

MESA members receive a $45 registration discount.  More information and the special MESA registration page is available at

EMA: Discs Still Make Up Majority of Studios’ Business

August 15, 2011 · Posted in M&E Connections, M&E Daily · Comments Off 

As of year-end 2010, disc sales and rentals still provided a slim majority of film studios’ revenues, according to a new report from the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA).

General sell-through declines notwithstanding, DVD and Blu-ray disc sales and rentals accounted for 51 percent of studio revenue, the EMA says, while box office receipts accounted for 26 percent; premium/pay TV packages accounted for 16 percent and video-on-demand/electronic sell-through accounted for is 7 percent.

Within the disc category, rentals helped offset declines in DVD sales in 2010. As with studios’ overall product mix, the makeup of the rental business is changing. EMA also projects that the subscription services will command half (50 percent) of home entertainment consumers’ overall rental spending in 2011, followed by kiosks (28 percent) and traditional brick-and-mortar stores (22 percent).

More information on EMA’s “2011 D2 Report: Discs & Digital” is available at the association’s website,

Ratings Enforcement Improves Among Entertainment Retailers

April 21, 2011 · Posted in M&E Connections, M&E Daily · Comments Off 

A recent undercover-shopper study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveals “some progress” in entertainment retailers’ efforts to prevent minors from purchasing mature-rated content, with videogame shops making the greatest strides since the agency’s last study in 2009.

The FTC recruited 13- to 16-year-olds, unaccompanied by a parent, to attempt to buy R-rated movie tickets, R-rated movie DVDs, unrated DVDs of movies that were R-rated when first released in theaters, music CDs carrying parental advisory warnings of explicit content, and videogames rated “M” by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Between November 2010 and January 2011, the teenagers attempted to buy the products from national and regional chain stores and theaters across the U.S.

Some 13% of the underage shoppers succeeded in purchasing an M-rated videogame — a “statistically significant improvement,” the FTC said, from the 20% purchase rate two years ago.

The Entertainment Merchants Association trade group did not miss the opportunity to laud the videogame industry’s self-regulation and further press its case against government oversight. “These numbers demonstrate once again that industry self-regulation can and does work, and there is no need for punitive government regulation, such as the California video game law that EMA and the Entertainment Software Association are currently challenging in the U.S. Supreme Court,” said EMA president Bo Andersen in a statement.

Retailers of R-rated and unrated DVDs also improved ratings enforcement, according to the FTC, though the agency noted “more needs to be done.” Thirty-eight percent of underage shoppers purchased R-rated DVDs, compared to 54% in 2009.  Meanwhile, 47% purchased unrated DVDs, down from 58% two years ago.

Retailers of explicit-content music still generally fail to prevent sales to minors. Some 64% of shoppers were able to purchase CDs with this label, the FTC noted, although the percentage was down from 72% in 2009.

At GameSupply: Videogame Execs Emphasize Need for Collaboration Across Supply Chain

February 4, 2011 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Mel Lambert

Greater sharing of information is a top supply chain priority for videogame publishers, distributors, and retailers, with the instant-access nature of emerging digital business models highlighting the industry’s imperative to improve physical product availability as well. Such was the consensus among game industry executives who spoke at the GameSupply conference in Burbank, Calif. on Wednesday.

Saul Berman, Global and American Strategy Consulting Leader with IBM, considered the changing retail model from physical to digital media in his conference keynote. “The game industry may grow,” he said, “but who will get the enhanced revenue stream? The record industry tried to stop the consumer doing what they wanted [with digital media], instead of monetizing the experience. The gaming industry needs to be agile and focus on the experience, interoperability and new revenue models.”

GameSupply Conference Co-Chairs Devendra Mishra (left) and John Quinn (right), with keynote speaker Saul Berman, Global and American Strategy Consulting Leader, IBM (center). (Photo: Mel Lambert|Content Creators)

A panel moderated by Bob Lamont, Vice President of North Highland, acknowledged that as videogame revenues have overtaken both music and home video, supply-chain challenges have intensified. “A key to success is the manufacturers’ responsiveness,” noted Kurt Fisher, VP of Operations at THQ. “It is vital that retailers collaborate with the retail chain and actively share information with suppliers,” added Patricia Vessey, director of Merchandising Services at Best Buy.

“Consumers do not like to wait,” said Steve Brown, CEO of Cinram, reaffirming the game industry’s need to transition from physical to digital products. “We also need to reduce waste through demand management and actionable intelligence,” so that costs can be reduced dramatically by shipping products from multiple vendors in shared boxes. “Collaboration,” Brown agreed, “is the key to eliminating waste.”

The third annual GameSupply Summit was co-produced by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA).

The day-long event ended with the presentation of three Video Game Supply Chain Awards by the EMA. Activision received the trade group’s Supply Chain Innovation award, while Sony DADC received an award for Supply Chain Efficiency and printing/merchandising firm Pacific Color Graphics received an award for Green Supply Chain Leadership.

Mel Lambert is principal of, a Los Angeles-based consulting service.

Supreme Court Probes Into Violent Videogame Business

November 3, 2010 · Posted in M&E Connections, M&E Daily · Comments Off 

California’s deputy attorney general, Zackery Morazzini, faced tough questioning from the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday, in the state’s petition before the high court to reinstate a 2005 law restricting the sale of violent videogames to minors.

But the Court also grilled Paul Smith, counsel for the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), on the group’s assertion that violent videogames were a form of speech protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The industry likely won’t know the upshot of the oral argument session until next June, when the Court is expected to issue its ruling on the case (Schwarzenegger v. EMA).

Justice Antonin Scalia cut Morazzini’s opening statement short to ask how California defined the “deviant” violence that would render games subject to the criminal statute. Later in the session, Justice Elena Kagan expounded upon Scalia’s question, asking Morazzini, “How do we separate violent games that are covered from violent games just as violent that are not covered?”

Morazzini replied that a jury could be instructed with expert testimony and clips of gameplay to judge the violent content for itself. “I’m not concerned about the jury judging,” Scalia responded. “I’m concerned about the producer of the games who has to know what he has to do in order to comply with the law. And you are telling me, well a jury can — of course a jury can make up its mind, I’m sure. But a law that has criminal penalties has to be clear. And how is the manufacturer to know whether a particular violent game is covered or not?” Read more

Agency Finalizes Rule on Product Safety Labeling for Packaged Media Marketed to Children

October 11, 2010 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comment 

Under a new rule from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), music, movie and game distributors may have to add tracking labels to certain children’s titles to satisfy a congressionally-mandated mechanism for safety recalls.

Most DVDs, CDs, and game packages are not subject to the labeling requirements, which are designed to limit children’s risk of exposure to lead and other chemicals as part of the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). But as Sean Bersell, VP Public Affairs at the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) notes, some children’s entertainment may be classified by the CPSC as “children’s products” under the new criteria.

The law defines “children’s product” as any “consumer product designed or intended primarily for children twelve years of age or younger.” The CPSC’s interpretive rule (PDF) offers manufacturers several factors for determining whether a given CD, DVD or videogame disc should be considered a “children’s product” — including reference to the title’s rating by industry groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America and .

At issue for distributors and disc manufacturers is whether they can reliably predict which way the government

In a note to his association members, Bersell says that the new rule provides “no blanket exemption for movies and video games aimed at children under age four” — reversing an earlier proposed interpretation. The agency, Bersell adds, “had previously suggested that very young children lack the motor skills to personally use the products and the physical products themselves (as opposed to the content they contain) have no appeal to children.” Ultimately, however, “the CPSC decided that such a bright line exemption would ‘only further complicate’ the age determination.”

The rule takes effect upon publication in the government’s Federal Register.

GameStop’s Tony Bartel And Microsoft’s Owen Roberts To Keynote ‘GameSupply’ Conference

January 25, 2010 · Posted in M&E Connections, M&E Daily · Comment 

Tony D. Bartel, Executive Vice President, Merchandising and Marketing, GameStop, and Owen Roberts, General Manager, North American Operations, Microsoft Entertainment and Devices, will deliver keynote addresses at next month’s “GameSupply” conference, the supply chain academy for interactive entertainment. Bartel will provide his insights on the video game market in 2009 and prospects for the future, as well as how greater supply chain efficiencies can impact those prospects. Roberts will address the operational challenges of synchronization of the video game hardware and software supply chains in light of the long lead time and high cost of game development, decreasing life cycles, and retail marketing strategies.

The one-day GameSupply event brings together video game retailers, distributors, publishers, and their service providers to share knowledge about new developments and technologies in the interactive entertainment supply chain. The conference, which was inaugurated last year, will be held February 10, 2010 at the Hilton San Jose in Silicon Valley. GameSupply is jointly produced by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA).

Tony D. Bartel has been Executive Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing since March 2007. Prior to that, Bartel was Senior Vice President of International Finance, a role he held since joining GameStop in 2005. He has also held executive positions with NCH, PepsiCo, and Yum Brands, Inc., including Chief Financial Officer of Pizza Hut.

Since 2006, Owen Roberts has been responsible for end-to-end operations and launch management in North America for Xbox 360, associated software, and other Microsoft products. During his 11-year tenure with Microsoft, Roberts has spearheaded the European launch of the Xbox console and bridged gaps between the company’s various business units and worldwide retail teams as head of the Redmond-based “WW Retail Go to Market” initiative.

“Tony Bartel’s expertise in the retailing of video games and Owen Roberts’ experience in synchronization of hardware and software supply chains make them ideal choices to put in perspective the opportunities and challenges of video game supply chain management,” noted GameSupply Conference Chairman and MESA Chief Strategist Devendra Mishra.

In addition to the keynote addresses, GameSupply will feature seven sessions that will focus on the entire video game supply chain, from manufacturing, through packaging and distribution, to the sales floor.

Registration for GameSupply is $395 and is open to content holders, publishers, retailers, distributors, and service providers. Member companies of MESA and EMA, receive a $100 registration discount. For more information about the GameSupply conference or to register, please see

The advisory committee for GameSupply consists of: Kurt Fischer, Vice President of Operations, THQ Inc.; Kim Motika, Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Operations, D3Publisher of America, Inc.; John P. Quinn, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Operations for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros.; and Murray Weir, Senior Director – Strategic Planning & Analysis, Nintendo of America.

Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities at the conference should contact Margaret Sekelsky at (310) 823-5805 or

Sessions To Address All Aspects of Videogame Supply Chain At ‘GameSupply’ Conference

December 17, 2009 · Posted in M&E Connections, M&E Daily · Comment 

The 2010 “GameSupply” conference, the supply chain academy for interactive entertainment, will feature seven sessions that will focus on the entire videogame supply chain, from manufacturing, through packaging and distribution, to the sales floor, according to the conference organizers. The one-day event brings together videogame retailers, distributors, publishers, and their service providers to share knowledge about new developments and technologies in the interactive entertainment supply chain. The conference, which was inaugurated this year, will be held February 10, 2010 at the Hilton San Jose in Silicon Valley. GameSupply is jointly produced by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA). GameSupply

Super D Joins Entertainment Merchants Association

November 6, 2009 · Posted in M&E Connections, M&E Daily · Comment 

Entertainment media wholesaler Super D has joined the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) to foster more direct communication with retailers. The move comes on the heels of the wholesaler’s hiring of Mary Flynn as DVD and Blu-ray Sales Manager and Brian Wofford as VP of E-Commerce. Super D, which boasts nearly 500,000 movie, music and game SKUs from domestic and import suppliers, also notes continued “tremendous growth” in its direct to consumer fulfillment business. Super D

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