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Britons break second £100m-a-week digital streaming milestone

The Guardian logo The Guardian 08/08/2019 Mark Sweney
a person sitting at a table with a cup of coffee: Digital video sales are up 18% to £854m, more than making up for a plunge of almost a quarter in DVD sales. © EPA Digital video sales are up 18% to £854m, more than making up for a plunge of almost a quarter in DVD sales.

The streaming revolution has notched up another milestone with UK consumers spending more than £100m a week on digital entertainment services such as Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and Apple Music in the first half of the year for the first time.

UK consumers spent a total of £3.3bn on entertainment products in the first six months of the year, a 4.5% increase compared with a year earlier, as the popularity of subscription music and TV streaming services more than made up for the decline in sales of traditional CDs and DVDs.

Kim Bayley, the chief executive of the Entertainment Retailers Association(ERA) which published the figures, said breaking the £100m-a-week barrier was a significant milestone given the first six months of the year is considered the “quiet half” for entertainment sales. Entertainment spend has previously passed £100m-a-week in the second half of the year, seeing a bigger concentration during the Christmas season.

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“With January to June historically the quietest half of the year, this is another great result for the entertainment sector,” said Bayley. “Digital services and physical retailers alike continue to innovate to expand the market for music, video and games.”

The biggest contributor to growth in the overall entertainment sector continues to be digital video, which spans services such as Netflix as well as movies and TV shows purchased from services including iTunes and Sky Store, which surged by £130m compared with last year.

Digital video sales growth of 18% to £854m more than made up for a plunge of almost a quarter (23%) in DVD sales, which dropped to £215m. The digital juggernaut fuelled an overall 6.4% rise in total video spend to £1.07bn, according to ERA.

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The same trend can be seen in music where the CD is dying a slow death at the hands of the explosive growth of streaming services which have revitalised record labels’ balance sheets. Music fans spent £486m on music streaming services from Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Deezer in the first half, growth of 26% or about £100m more than the same period last year.

Sales of CDs and Blu-ray discs fell 14% year-on-year to £139m. The popularity of streaming services - the world’s biggest, Spotify, has over 200m users, with more than 100m to its paid-for services - drove total recorded music revenues 9.9% to £672m in the first half.

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The amount spent on video games, by far the biggest sector of the combined music, video and games markets, rose by 1% to £1.56bn. The decline in sales of physical copies of games, which fell 8.5% to £185m, was more than made up for by the 2.4% rise in digital gaming spend to £1.3bn.

ERA said the best-selling album was The Greatest Showman soundtrack, with sales of 380,000 units in the first half to add to the 1.62m that made it the biggest seller of last year.

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The best-selling track was Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved. The biggest selling video in the first half was Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which sold 1.45m copies. The biggest selling video game was Grand Theft Auto V, with 361,312 units sold in the first half, less than 1,000 copies more than Fifa 19.

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