LONDON — British newspapers are now giving away free as many DVDs as are being purchased in stores, revealing a stealth contributing factor to the decline of Hollywood's cash cow format.
The cover-mounted DVD giveaways, which have included "Star Wars" and "Donnie Darko," devalue the format in the eyes of consumers, one-quarter of whom said they would have bought the same title if they had seen it in shops for a reasonable price, according to a report released on Thursday.
In the first quarter of 2006, about 54 million DVDs were given away to British consumers who bought newspapers and magazines, about the same number as were sold by retailers over the same span, market research firm Screen Digest said, using polling data supplied by TNS and Ipsos.
That compares with 130 million DVDs that were given away in 2005 by the country's national newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph, the Times, The Sun and the Daily Express, and 211 million that were sold in shops.
Although most of the freebies are old and sometimes forgotten films, Screen Digest estimated that had they been bought, the 2005 DVD giveaways would have represented 495 million pounds ($938.4 million) in retail sales.