The digital age is having a bigger impact on the entertainment industry than ever before.

The number of people opting to stream movies is approaching parity with those who watch them on DVD, according to Deloitte’s sixth “State of the Media Democracy” report: Some 42% of the people surveyed said they had streamed a film in the past six months versus 51% who watched on DVD, Blu-ray or VHS.

While there’s still a gap, the momentum is clearly on streaming’s side. The 2011 numbers represent a 14% increase from 2009. DVD viewership, meanwhile, is down two points over the past two years.

Additionally, the number of people who cited streamed content delivery as their favorite way to watch a movie jumped from 4% to 14%.

That enthusiasm is driving more home viewership, as well.

In 2007, Deloitte found that 37% of the people it surveyed had not watched a movie that was available for rental or purchase in the past six months. In 2011, that number had dropped to 19%.

“Consumers maybe watching fewer television shows and movies on TV, or reading fewer physical copies of books and newspapers, but they have not stopped consuming the content,” said Phil Asmundson, vice chairman and U.S. media and telecommunications sector leader for Deloitte. “They are simply watching or reading on different media or platforms.”

The survey, which polled 2,000 consumers ranging from 14 to 75 years of age, also saw an opportunity for cable and satellite companies to boost revenues. Watching television via DVR was the second most-preferred way to view a show, trouncing On Demand and services like Hulu, but falling far short of live TV.

Only 44% of the people surveyed had DVR functionality, though. An increase in distribution of those could stave off competition from other mediums.

That’s crucial as Deloitte found cord cutting to be on the rise as more programs are streamed online. Nine percent of the people surveyed said they had cut off their pay TV entirely, with 11% more considering doing so.

“In a world where consumers have other ways to access content, the DVR may be an underutilized service that could serve as a value-add for new and existing subscribers at minimal cost to cable and satellite TV companies,” Asmundson said.

By the numbers
streamed a film in the past six months vs. 28% in 200951%
watched a film on DVD, Blu-ray or VHS vs. 53% in 200914%
cite streamed content delivery as favorite way to watch a movie, up from 4% in 200944%
own a DVR
Source: Deloitte’s “State of the Media Democracy” report