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Superstars and heavy tails in recorded entertainment: Empirical analysis of the market for DVDs

by Walls, W. D.

This research presents a systematic empirical analysis of the market for digital versatile discs (DVDs). We examine a sample of 953 DVD titles that appeared on the weekly top-30 sales charts in North America over a 30-month interval. We find that the size distribution of weekly DVD sales revenue does not indicate the presence of increasing returns to information. The empirical results for DVD sales contrast starkly with previous results obtained for motion-picture box-office revenue, where a number of researchers have found evidence of positive feedback in demand. While the distribution of cumulative revenues across DVDs is highly unequal, the DVD market appears not to be characterized by the extreme heavy upper tail that so well describes the winner-take-all nature of the distribution of box-office success across motion pictures.

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