Wild About Harry

Harry Potter is not only a magical little boy, but a huge moneymaker as well. Analysis from Nielsen and its various market-specific divisions provides a multi-dimensional view into the Harry industry, as the fifth installment of the novel prepares for release on June 21, 2003.

Cumulatively, more than 1.3 million copies of the book were ordered on Amazon’s Web sites worldwide – nearly three times the worldwide advance orders the online retailer received for “Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire,” which previously held the record for largest new product release.

Similarly, Barnes & Noble.com reported that they sold 896,000 copies on the first day, while Barnes & Noble bookstores sold an astonishing 286,000 copies in just 60 minutes – or 80 books sold per second.

The new book is expected to garner the same success as the previous installments – it has already achieved the #1 sales rank on Amazon.com even before its release. Nielsen BookScan gave Platinum awards to the four previously released Harry Potter books for combined sales of 6.8 million copies throughout the U.S., UK, and Australia in 2002.

Any one title, in all its editions, that sells more than 1 million copies over a period of five consecutive years qualifies for a Platinum Book Award. The four books have sold almost 200 million copies in 55 languages.

According to Nielsen EDI, the two Harry Potter films grossed more than $1.8 billion worldwide combined. The first film grossed more than $965.8 worldwide at the box office, with $129.4 million attributed to the U.S. and Canada in the first week of release, making it the highest grossing film of 2001.

The second film, “Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets”, grossed more than $866.4 million worldwide and $106.1 million for its opening week in the U.S and Canada. It is the fourth highest grossing film of 2002.

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone” kept viewers tuned to the tube, as Nielsen Media Research found that 6.6 million people watched the movie on HBO – it was second only behind “Castaway.”

Harry was hot at home too. Measurements from Nielsen VideoScan revealed that “Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets” is the best-selling VHS and DVD in 2003 thus far, while “Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone” was the #3 selling DVD and #2 selling VHS in 2002. Warner Brothers reports that some 40 million video units of “Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone” were sold worldwide.

Potter-philes were anxious for audio too. The soundtrack for “Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone” has sold more than 551,000 copies in the U.S. since its October 2001 release, and the soundtrack for “Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets” sold 155,000 units since November 2002.

An expensive ad campaign helped to generate the Potter profits. Nielsen Monitor-Plus found that more than $140 million was spent on advertising Harry Potter in 12 key countries since January 2002 – with more than $130 million attributed to 2002 alone. In the UK more than $21 million was spent in 2002, and more than $3.5 million has been spent in 2003 so far.

The top U.S. advertising expenditures for Harry Potter promotion in 2002 were: cable TV ($30.3 million); network TV ($26.1 million); local newspaper ($8.6 million); spot TV ($8.2 million); and national magazines ($3.2 million).

Internet traffic measurements from Nielsen//NetRatings revealed that 440,000 U.S. visitors clicked on to the Harry Potter Web site from home and work during May 2003, and 191,000 UK home visitors surfed to the site during the same period.

Various Harry Potter releases correlate to Internet traffic spikes:

  • Traffic to the site skyrocketed 108 percent – to more than 3.8 million unique visitors – in November 2001, the month the first installment, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, premiered in theaters.
  • The DVD release of the first movie boosted traffic to the site in May and June 2002, attracting 1.2 and 2.1 million visitors respectively.
  • With the release of the second film, traffic to the site jumped 91 percent to more than 3 million unique visitors in November 2002.
  • The DVD release for the second film pushed traffic upward to more than 1 million visitors – compared to 639,000 visitors the previous month.
  • The UK Harry Potter Web site drew 710,000 unique visitors – jumping 152 percent in traffic over the previous month at home – during the premiere of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in November 2001.
  • The DVD release of the first film also caused traffic to jump to 253,000 unique surfers in June 2002.
  • When “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” was released in November 2002, traffic surged 165 percent to 442,000 unique visitors, as compared to 167,000 surfers the previous month.
  • The DVD release of the second film caused traffic to jump 53 percent to 187,000 visitors in April 2003.

The impending release of the fifth book moved the search term, “Harry Potter,” up the list one spot to #14 on the The Lycos 50 for the week ending June 14, 2003, but the term hit #1 for the week ending June 21, 2003 – the day the book was released. The popular phrase has been on the Lycos list for 156 weeks.

One of the factors driving searches: people looking for spoilers on the book’s plot, based on rumors that a major character dies at the end. Harry comes out about 10 percent higher than the #2 term, “Clay Aiken.” While Clay took a big jump when his single hit stores, Harry made up the difference at the end when his book came out.

“Harry Potter” was the 13th most popular search term on the Lycos 50 in 2002 — up from #14 in 2001.

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