Digital downloads now make up 25% of all entertainment sales

The UK entertainment market is getting increasingly digital, with more than £1bn spent on downloads of films, games and music in 2012.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

No wonder companies like HMV are having a hard time shifting their DVDs and CDs – it seems UK consumers increasingly prefer to get their entertainment fix through the internet. 

Digital download sales in 2012 increased by 11.4% compared with 2011, to £1bn, which equates to around a quarter of all entertainment spending – the highest ever proportion. 

To get a picture of what is happening elsewhere in the market: CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray disc sales fell by a massive 17.6%, the biggest drop ever seen in a single year. They still make up most of the market, but if a trend like that continues…well, you do the maths.

Kim Bayley, the director general of the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), which compiled the figures, described the £1bn milestone as an ‘incredible achievement’ for UK retailers. 

She said: ‘This reflects their huge investment in new and innovative services - which means you can buy music, video and games literally at any time of the day and wherever you are.’ 

However, Bayley pointed out that since three-quarters of the market is still disc-led, ‘people seem to value the quality and tangibility of a physical product.’ 

It is worth noting that many existing retailers have not been at the forefront of this digital downloads revolution and their falling sales will not feel like ‘an incredible achievement.’ Apple’s iTunes, Google Play, Amazon’s LoveFilm and Netflix are not handing any of their success and cash to the high street stalwarts like HMV, Game and Blockbuster.

Nonetheless, it looks like 2013 is set to be an even bigger year for the download nation. Last year, film downloads grew by 20%, music by 15% and games by 8%. If these trends continue, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple more high street retailers give up the ghost.

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