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Navigating the Videodyne Rental Information Site

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What does this website do?

It provides a few basic statistics about the home video rental market in the United States, including a list of the top ten video rentals each week as well as estimates of total home video rental activity (i.e., how much people spent on video rentals and /or how many videos were rented) each week. 

What distinguishes this site from others is that it consolidates information about the home video rental market published by three independent sources--Video Store magazine, Video Business, and Vidtrac (Collectively known as "The Big Three.")--in one place. Having all three source's information easily available for comparison gives you a more accurate perspective on the video rental market than is possible if you were to only use one source of information.

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Why does it use data from the Big Three and not others?

The short answer: They publish this information each week for  free.

The long answer: There are many other sources that provide lists of the top renting videos for the week (some of which can be seen from this website's links page). Many of these other top video rental lists--for example, those published in Billboard magazine or Entertainment Weekly--are well regarded by the public. For the most part, however, these other lists fall short in one critical area: they don't tell us how the video's rank is determined. On some of the charts, the rank is all they tell us.

Video Business, Video Store magazine, and Vidtrac provide lists of the top renting videos that show by what criteria the individual titles are ranked.  Without the ranking criteria, a top ten list is of limited value because we do not have any perspective about the relative performance of each video.

Another reason these three sources are tracked by Videodyne is because they also provide information about aggregate video rental demand nationwide each week.   Vidtrac and Video Store magazine publish this information as estimates of weekly video rental revenue nationwide, i.e., how much money video rentals generated overall for the week.   Video Business, on the other hand, estimates the total number of videos rented each week as well as the revenue generated by this rental activity. This information is also consolidated on the website in the catalog of charts.

There are other professional consultants who track the video industry and would be able to provide the depth of information that the Big Three provide; however, these other sources are not as accessible as The Big Three and they do not publish this information free of charge.

Please note that there are some gaps in the information we have available for the year 2000.  In January 2000, Vidtrac temporarily suspended publishing estimates of aggregate rental activity each week.  They resumed publication in July but Videodyne does not have weekly rental revenue for the first half of 2000 according to Vidtrac.

Around the time that Vidtrac resumed publishing weekly revenue figures, the VSDA and Video Business combined their market research forces and began sharing data. The synergy of the two resulted in stronger market research data each week but it rendered the Top Video Rental charts identical.  Rather than republish redundant charts on this website, Videodyne has suspended publication of the Video Business Top Ten rentals.

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What information is available and where is it?

  • Top Ten Videos takes you to the Top 10 Video Rentals for the latest week as reported by Video Store Magazine and Vidtrac.  This section is updated weekly, usually on Wednesday.
  • Rental Trends has a catalog of charts that include individual graphs of the weekly rental activity for the previous six months as reported by The Big Three. The catalog also includes one chart showing indexed values of all three sources which allows us to make meaningful comparisons among the three.

Another part of the catalog is the Trade Wars! section that lets us compare weekly rental activity for the entire calendar year 1998 vs. the same weekly period in 1997 as reported by just the two trade magazines.

  • Links takes you to a page of hot links to other Internet sites that might be helpful to somebody interested in video rental information.
  • For those familiar with the Videodyne website, there's a New! section that bypasses all the introductory pages and takes you straight to most recently updated pages.
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Who are The Big Three?

Vidtrac, Video Store magazine, and Video Business.  Video Store magazine and Video Business are the two main trade magazines serving the home video retailer. Vidtrac is a video-industry market research project sponsored by the Video Software Dealer's Association (VSDA), the video retailer's trade organization.

For more info, go to the Who's Who page on this website. 

(If you go there from here, please use the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.)

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Why is this information valuable?

Home video rentals and sales provide a significant percentage of the movie industry's overall revenue. Many films earn more money after they hit the video store rack than they did when they were in the theaters, assuming they even have their first run in a theater. Since the advent of home video, it's become more common for a film to bypass the big screen entirely and go straight to video. 

Some major motion picture studios will release a sequel to theatrical film on video without giving the sequel any box office exposure. For example, "Return to Jafar" was a direct to video sequel to Disney's animated megahit, "Aladdin."  Sometimes low budget films are made without any intention of being shown on the big screen.  This is more common among certain mainstream genres, particularly horror films and at least one genre of film--adult hardcore--has nearly disappeared from the big screen and is for all intents and purposes, a video only genre.

Despite the importance of video to Hollywood, many people still focus on box office receipts as the primary measure of a film's success.  This is why it's fairly easy to find information on the Internet about last weekend's biggest theatrical draw or how much money people spend at the box office over a certain period of time but it's very difficult to find out what the top renting video was or how much people spent on video rentals over a certain period.  This website attempts to partially fill that void.

Because, despite the focus on box office performance, there are people out there who need to know weekly consumer demand for video rental. Sometimes this information is extremely important to them. Perhaps because of the dearth of video information, these people freak out and act like the world will fall apart if the information they need isn't provided to them immediately; even when it's 5:00 PM (Pacific time) on Friday evening and the only reason they could possibly need the information as urgently as they insist is that they didn't plan ahead and ask for it earlier.

There are several sources that a person could turn to if they wanted to know, for example, how much consumers spent on video rentals during the previous month. Three of these sources--Video Store Magazine, Video Business, and the VSDA's Vidtrac ("The Big Three")--publish this information weekly and will provide historical data upon request to just about anybody (although not always free of charge). 

What's interesting is that if you ask these three sources the same question, it's almost guaranteed that you'll get three different answers.

This discrepancy does not necessarily mean that one source is right and the others are wrong (although that might be) or that they are all wrong (although that might be). The only thing that's certain is that they can't all be right (although they'll all insist that they are).

They disagree primarily because random error always occurs in social science research so variation from one study to the next is bound to occur. These three also disagree because they use different research designs to gather data about the home video rental market and, presumably, they use different assumptions about the video industry to extrapolate their data out to the entire universe of video stores.  (If you're unfamiliar with these folks or just want to know more about how they do what they do, check out the Who's Who link on this site.)

In an ideal world, one source would incorporate all three research designs simultaneously and they would use the same basic assumptions about the video industry. This would allow for a system of checks and balances used by unbiased market researchers focused solely on developing an accurate model of video rental activity. Video Business and Vidtrac have taken great strides in making this a reality; however, being independent, somewhat competitive entities toiling under deadlines and budget restrictions, full disclosure and unfettered cooperation among these folks is unwieldy if not impossible.

Although  we cannot analyze the primary data directly, we can analyze the secondary data--i.e., the information that is published each week. If you look at what these three independent sources of information spit out each week and compare them side-by-side,  it's possible to develop a (hopefully) more accurate guide to video rental activity in the United States than is possible by relying on only one of these sources. They may not agree on how many videos were rented or how much revenue was generated by those rentals, but if they all say video rentals were up from the prior week and "Barney Does Dallas" was on the top of charts, business probably was up and Barney was probably on top.

So, besides making video rental statistics readily available on the Internet, this website does double duty by putting rental stats from several different sources together in one place.  We do not provide in-depth analysis; we just line up the numbers for comparison. Looking at it this way gives us a pretty good idea of global trends in video rental. Putting it on the web makes it accessible to anybody anywhere at anytime. Even at 5:00 PM on Friday.

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Last Updated on November 03, 2000