Hit Wildlife is launching a video/DVD division to handle Hit titles and under-exploited third party rights. Edward Hall has moved internally to head up the new venture. The decision follows successful video and DVD sales of Living Britain (6×60-min), an exploration of the natural world of the British Isles, which first aired on BBC2 in December 2000 and for which Hit retained video rights. The videos were launched to coincide with the re-broadcast of the series in May. Since then, 5,000 box sets (15,000 units) of the series have been sold through direct mail and book clubs alone, without taking into account retail figures (the series has been sold in U.K. department store Marks & Spencers).
Hit Wildlife MD Carl Hall says, ‘We have a catalog of 250 hours… but video hasn’t been explored, because traditionally video retailers don’t take documentary titles, unless they’re heavily promoted like Walking with Dinosaurs.‘ Hit is aiming to buck the trend of focusing on a limited number of titles with mass market appeal by going through its catalog and packaging together subjects for very niche markets. For example, a box set on dogs featuring dingoes, Israeli wolves and wild dogs in Africa will be available.
Hit is also taking its premiere titles and adding previously unseen footage for DVD release. ‘It allows us to get product out into the market,’ says Hall. Direct response activities will be combined with the launch of a consumer web site. With 99% of Hit Wildlife sales outside the U.K., Hall is hoping to roll out the venture worldwide and suspects Germany will be the next port of call, with the U.S. on next year’s agenda. In a market of declining TV revenues, the move reflects the widening search for secondary revenue sources.