DVD Group Renews Mission

As of August 1, a premier trade association of hardware and software companies has a new name and a renewed mission.

Formerly known as the DVD Entertainment Group, the association has officially changed its name to the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), and has expanded its charter to promote digital video on DVD, as well as "other new digital technologies that may emerge in the future." The DEG made its announcement at the annual Video Software Dealer Association (VSDA) Expo in Las Vegas the last week in July.

The group includes hardware manufacturers from several corners of the consumer electronics industry—major players such as JVC, Pioneer, Sony, and Toshiba—and software companies, including the home entertainment divisions of Hollywood movie studios. Other members include disc manufacturers and replicators, distributors, and digital editing and mastering houses. DEG's unique mix of members gives the group exceptional opportunities for cooperatively developing future technologies, officials stated at the VSDA confab.

DEG members are especially optimistic about the near future, with DVD sales and rentals already at record levels this year—by the end of July, 427 million DVDs had been shipped to retailers since January 1. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) claims factory-to-dealer sales of DVD players exceeded 10 million in the first half of 2003, a 44% increase over the previous year, bringing the total number of players sold to approximately 66 million, with 46 million households now equipped with DVD. Many households have multiple players; the CEA claims that 32% of those that have none will buy one this year. The North American market has absorbed 1.8 billion DVDs since the format's inception in 1997, according to the DEG.

Disc makers have pumped up production to feed the seemingly endless demand for DVDs. A July 29 report from Reuters stated that major disc producers CMC Magnetics Corp., Ritek Inc., Prodisc Technology, Inc., and Lead Data, Inc. all plan to increase DVD output in the coming months. At least 50% of the world's DVDs are made in Taiwan, as are 80% of the recordable CDs. The optical disc industry does a $2 billion business annually in the US.