Taking on Tuesday: Will the Digital Industry Topple the Tuesday Release Date?

Posted on November 04, 2013
By Anne Frisbie

Why are books, CDs and DVDs usually released on Tuesday in the US?

I became obsessed with the question of Tuesday release dates, because all my favorite books are coming out on Tuesdays. Only 20% of books are sold digitally today. Yet even for a book where a majority of the sales are digital (not print), many of those books are still being released on Tuesday. Why?

The biggest reasons named for the famous Tuesday release dates for games, videos, music and books are the following:

  • easiest day for retailers to stock shelves as it is a slow sales day; and
  • for music, it gives seven full days of album sales for the best chance to rank high on The Billboard chart, and then other content categories followed suit.

It should be noted that most games in the UK are released on Fridays not Tuesdays also due to retail supply chain considerations, at least according to Eurogamer. This has further frustrated UK gamers who would like to see a worldwide release date for all games not just some games.

Whatever the original reasons for Tuesday release dates in the US, when will entertainment release dates take into account digital (not just brick & mortar) distribution considerations? Let’s take a specific look at games where digital sales have become critical.

Most Microsoft Xbox games are still released on Tuesday (at least in the US), and some of the games will be released on the same day in the UK. Yet many xbox games won’t launch in the UK or other countries until weeks or months after the US release.

On the other hand, most gaming app developers have already broken the Tuesday tradition. Many are trying to figure out the best day of the week for their launches for high app store rankings before the weekend. As a result, Wednesday has generally been a big day for game app launches, but this also made Wednesdays the most competitive day. Sundays are the least competitive, because you aren’t taking advantage of rankings for the weekend highs. Whatever the best day for a particular game, it is great to see that app developers are breaking the Tuesday brick & mortar entertainment release date tradition since that model was built for in store retail sales not mobile sales.

We have also seen app game developers getting more aggressive outside of the US, and in some cases releasing their games outside of the US first. In fact, Gartner Group notes that, “Some of the significant growth [over the next few years] in mobile games also comes from revenue in the emerging markets…the potential to sell-in back catalog games exists in emerging markets.”

I hope content producers (across books, music, videos and games) build sales & marketing plans – release dates, global distribution etc. – based not just brick & mortar supply chain considerations, but make sure to take into account digital sales considerations.