Consumer spending on home entertainment rose 8.4% to a record $25.2 billion in 2019, spurred by the at-home sector’s biggest growth engine — digital, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.
Subscription streaming, digital movie sales and digital movie rentals over the internet all generated significantly more money than they did in 2018, DEG says. The trade association estimates consumers spent $15.9 billion on subscription streaming, which now accounts for 63% of the entire home entertainment market. That’s a 23.7% spike from 2018.
Digital movie sales, commonly known as electronic sell-through, or EST, were up 5.1% to nearly $2.6 billion – while digital movie rentals, through internet services like FandangoNow, Redbox On Demand, Vudu and Google Play, were up 9%. This reflects “consumers’ continued engagement with VOD, increasingly through internet services,” DEG says.
Consumers spent a total of $5.9 billion on buying movies and other filmed content, either on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD or digital, DEG says. That’s down 9.4% from 2018. Disc sales declined 18.2%, to $3.29 billion.
Rental spending dropped 12.3% in 2019, to $3.4 billion, DEG says. On the digital side, a la carte streaming generated $1.96 billion, down 6.2% from the prior year – chiefly due to consumers’ shift away from traditional pay-TV services. Disc rentals, meanwhile, slipped 19.5% to $1.44 billion, the biggest chunk of which came from kiosks, which finished the year with estimated sales of $884.6 million. Redbox leads the kiosk market, with more than 40,000 red vending machines, generally situated at large grocers and mass merchants such as Walmart.
Also on the rental side, Netflix’s legacy disc-by-mail rental business brought in an estimated $301.2 million, while the country’s waning number of video rental stores — once the home entertainment sector’s dominant revenue producer — collected just $250 million, a 21.1% decline from 2018.
On the transactional side, the top-performing movies included Disney/Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” and “Captain Marvel,” Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” and “A Star Is Born,” and 20th Century Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” TV standouts included seasons one and two of “Yellowstone” from Paramount Network; the “Game of Thrones” franchise from HBO/Warner Bros.; Sony Pictures Television’s season four of “Outlander,” based on author Diana Gabaldon’s historical time-travel book series of the same name; season nine of zombie series “The Walking Dead,” from Lionsgate; and season 12 of “The Big Bang Theory,” from Warner Bros.
At the same time that the DEG released its annual year-end numbers, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment shared some of its “Attitudes and Usage” study findings.
The key point: Home entertainment has evolved into a true multiplatform business. Universal found that consumers are using around three platforms on average, the most common bundle being disc purchase, disc rental and subscription streaming.
Thomas K. Arnold is editorial director of Media Play News.