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 do-ing prior to [the crisis],” he said. “The fact that people are still in stores shop-ping 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 com-pared 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.”

NPD: DVD and Blu-ray Player Sales Jump in Pandemic

Consumers are getting physical.

Sales of DVD and Blu-ray players were both up 27% in unit sales for the week ended April 18 compared with same week a year ago, according to data from the NPD Group.

“Sales are up as consumers stay at home and look for multiple forms of entertainment,” said NPD analyst Stephen Baker. “These include DVDs and Blu-ray discs to entertain children while their parents are working, backup access devices if Internet access is challenged by streaming, or simply the consumers’ realization that they may need a physical disc player as an alternative to streaming and either they didn’t already have one or the one they do have needs an upgrade.”

Meanwhile, streaming player sales jumped 42%.

Overall, NPD-tracked U.S. Consumer Tech sales increased 23% year-over-year (29% week-over-week) during the week ended April 18 to nearly $1.8 billion. This topped the 21% increase tracked during the week ended March 21 sales spike.

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“We saw broad-based increases across almost all categories, unlike in March, when the work-from-home categories dominated,” Baker said.

TVs unit sales also jumped, exceeding 1.1 million units, the highest volume ever outside holiday, an 86% increase in units. Every TV size 32 inches and above had double-digit growth while 65 inch-and-above TVs were up 139%. Consumers also bought smaller sizes as 32-inch TVs, which declined by 15% over the first 10 weeks of 2020, increased by 40% over the last 5 weeks.

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Other strong categories included networking (70%), headphones (29%), printers (61%), DIY components (111%), PC microphones (147%), range extenders (173%), TV mounts (41%) and soundbars (69% in units).