Disc Continues to Spin

While premium VOD has been a rising star in the pandemic, the crisis is also giving new life to an aging player, the disc.

Warner home entertainment chief Jim Wuthrich presented studio research showing the growth in home entertainment spending after stay-at-home orders took effect and noted physical held up.

“The physical business has been trending stronger than what it was doing prior to [the crisis],” he said. “The fact that people are still in stores shopping for the essentials at Walmart, Target and Best Buy has been helpful in holding up physical. And, of course, Amazon and the online retailers have all done well in that space.”

Meanwhile, the NPD Group found that, since the middle of March, disc sales in much of the country grew compared with average weekly sales in January in February. Save the hard-hit and populous New England and the Mid-Atlantic census divisions (down 2% and 3%, respectively), disc unit sales were up everywhere else, from 2% in the Pacific to 11% in the West South Central and Mountain areas.

NPD also noted unit sales of DVD and Blu-ray players were both up 27% for the week ended April 18 compared with same week a year ago.

The three-week period from April 19 to May 9 saw sales of film and TV content on DVD post the format’s best year-over-year showing in nearly seven years, according to a report from our own Media Play News research. For the three-week period as a whole, the DVD format was up 14.4% in revenue and 12.5% in unit sales compared with the same three weeks a year ago.

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Indeed, Engadget writer Devindra Hardawar May 4 wrote a column titled “Why I Caved and Finally Bought a 4K Blu-ray Player.” De-spite calling the disc a nearly dead format, he wrote, “As a cinephile and someone who will never trust streaming services entirely (even if I’m ‘buying’ a movie digitally), I’ll always have a special place in my heart for physical media.”

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