Gandolfini gone, 'Sopranos' may get only brief bump

Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:19pm EDT
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By Ronald Grover and Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - A spike in sales of "The Sopranos" DVDs, downloads and merchandise based on the mafia series following star James Gandolfini's death may only be short-lived and likely won't provide much of a windfall for HBO and its parent Time Warner Inc.

Sales of DVDs on the retail site Amazon shot up in the hours immediately following the 51-year-old star's death in Italy on Wednesday. "The Sopranos: The Complete Series," which sells for $124.99 on the site, by late Thursday had jumped to second place among best-sellers from 1,463 on that list.

The series' first season was also ranked No. 4 on Apple's iTunes list.

"It's a one-day wonder, and it won't last," said Alan Gould, media analyst with Evercore Partners, who follows Time Warner.

Old episodes will likely generate a lot of streaming, especially since kids are home from college, but it's unlikely to last beyond four to six months, said TV consultant, Adam Armbruster, a partner with Eckstein, Summers, Ambruster and Co.

"In the past 24 hours it's gotten more press than it has ever gotten," said Armbruster. "The mass public will be curious about why this man earned so much attention. It's not a long-term thing."

HBO streams "The Sopranos" on its HBO Go service, an online service available at the moment to about 6.5 million of its subscribers, who get it as part of their subscription to a cable or satellite service.

That won't likely get them many new subscribers, said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities, who follows the company.   Continued...

A newspaper and bouquet of flowers adorn a booth in Holsten's Ice Cream Shop, which was the location of the final scene where the TV show "The Sopranos" was filmed, in Bloomfield, New Jersey, June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri