Relax everyone, physical discs aren’t dead yet

Trade report confirms disc format in rude health, despite booming digital ownership

Once again, it seems that predictions of the demise of physical disc sales have been exaggerated. According to the latest figures released by industry body BASE (the British Association for Screen Entertainment), there is no slow down in the market, despite the proliferation of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. What's more, sales of physical media continue to seriously out-muscle digital downloads – and DVD still rules the roost.

A breakdown of the BASE figures shows that during the first six months of 2018, a massive 64.7 per cent of video sales remained DVD, with digital retail accounting for 22.4 per cent and Blu-ray following behind with 12.9 per cent. 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray sales now account for 12 per cent of that smaller Blu-ray market.

In total, more than 38million copies have been sold across all video formats (DVD, Blu-ray and Digital) over the past half-year, with The Greatest Showman alone breaking the million mark.

The barnstorming P.T. Barnum singalong has garnered sales in excess of 1.4m copies across all formats, moving it ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which sold more than 1.03m copies, and Paddington 2, which happily munches marmalade sandwiches in third place with cross-platform sales of 835,000.

Other big-hitting titles include Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, which has scored sales of more than 600,000, and Marvel's Black Panther, which has pulled in superheroic sales in excess of 513,000.

On with the EST show

Electronic sell-through (EST) has grown 27 per cent, when aggregated across the various digital retail platforms available. According to the new BASE report, the average UK consumer spend across EST is steadily increasing and stands at £31.50.

Meanwhile, the all-conquering The Greatest Showman has also become the most successful digital title released in the UK, and is officially the first title to surpass digital sales of half a million. Other popular movies for digital buyers include Justice League, with more than 170,000 digital copies sold, Fifty Shades Freed, with more than 120,000 copies, and Blade Runner 2049, with more than 112,000 copies.

Elsewhere, the rapid rise of 4K UHD sales is good news for collectors and the AV industry in general. More than 250 titles have been released on the UHD format since its introduction in 2016. Significantly, the amount of money spent has also grown by three percentage points. The trade association notes that the average price of Blu-ray discs has also increased by 7.8 per cent over the past six months.

Premium experiences

Unsurprisingly, Robert Price, Chairman of BASE and MD of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, is happy. 'There is much to be positive about when considering the performance of the home entertainment sector so far in 2018, especially in the context of a challenging trading environment and unsteady consumer confidence.

'As an industry we must ensure our relevance to audiences sustains. We need to capitalise on successes where we see them and be bold and collaborative in approaching challenges and meeting the needs of a customer base still clearly very much in love with ownership and collection.'

Liz Bales, BASE Chief Executive, has a similar outlook. 'So far 2018 has seen the home entertainment sector benefit from consistently strong performance across a broad range of titles, underlining that audiences remain engaged with the category even as it adapts to changing viewing habits and tastes. 'There's much to suggest that being able to access a film in your home, and in the best possible quality, remains important to many.'