To paraphrase Mark Twain, “the reports of [the death of packaged media] are greatly exaggerated” — in the United Kingdom anyway.
Sales of DVD, Blu-ray Disc, 4K UHD Blu-ray and electronic sellthrough movies and TV shows in the world’s No. 2 home entertainment market generated more than £891 million ($1.2 billion) in 2019, according to year-end data compiled by the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) and culled from statistics originating within the Official Charts Co. and Futuresource Consulting.
About 54% of the 2019 transactional revenue came from packaged media, underlining that where content ownership is concerned, the disc is still the preferred choice for many consumers. In fact, 42% of consumers who made a physical transaction within the past 12 months did so to add to a collection, 43% bought to give as a gift, and 46% bought so they could re-watch on multiple occasions.
The top-selling disc in 2019 was Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s Bohemian Rhapsody, with the Oscar winner selling more than 1.7 million units across physical and digital formats. The success of the Freddie Mercury biopic came on the heels of Fox’s 2018 chart topper, The Greatest Showman, which itself continued to perform strongly in 2019, selling an additional 468,000 copies across all formats (giving it total sales of more than 3.1 million copies). Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s A Star Is Born followed up with 702,000 copies sold.
“Consumer appetite for paid-for digital video continued its impressive momentum in 2019,” David Sidebottom, principal analyst of entertainment at Futuresource Consulting, said in a statement. “Both EST and [transactional VOD] grew once again, albeit at a lower rate than previously after an incredibly strong 2018 performance. SVOD goes from strength to strength, as the new wave of SVOD service heralds the next era of digital video, as we enter 2020.”
Indeed, subscription streaming video — driven by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video — helped grow overall home entertainment revenue 9.5% to £2.6 billion ($3.4 billion) from £2.37 billion ($3.1 billion) in 2018. SVOD accounted for nearly 66% of total revenue.
The picture is far from black and white, however, with nearly 40% of SVOD subscribers also transacting on physical or digital formats, as well as the 7.2 million consumers without over-the-top video subscriptions.
BASE said a proliferation of consumption models, including physical media and digital consumption at home and on the move, means that access to home entertainment content is more pervasive than ever before.
With SVOD now an entrenched layer of the home entertainment industry, it not only provides a diversity of choice for consumers, but also serves as a launchpad for high-quality original content that then goes on to reach an even wider audience via transactional formats.
“In a year that has seen consolidation between studios and independent distributors alike, the reality is that consumption habits are changing and are likely to continue to do so, with the debut of services like Disney+, Peacock and HBO Max all likely to further [drive] that change,” BASE CEO Liz Bales said.
The executive reiterated that content ownership — especially locally produced — remains of significant value to many consumers.
“Opportunity often comes from change, as evidenced by the U.K. production boom, and so we look to 2020 with excitement and a wealth of content and delivery well-equipped to meet evolving audience needs,” she said.
Blu-ray accounted for 27% of the disc market share, up from 24.3% in 2018. BASE contends the enduring appeal of disc is underscored by consumers’ investment in higher-end hardware and utilizing the Blu-ray and 4K UHD capabilities of games consoles.
The trade group said the average selling price across the Blu-ray format increased 4.7% to £14.88. Within the Blu-ray format, 4K UHD now represents 16.3% of the Blu-ray market, and a total of 4.3% of the overall disc market. There are more than 450 4K UHD Blu-ray titles available.
At the same time, EST grew 4.5% in sales volume and 3.5% retail value suggests that the digital revolution that has taken place in recent years is increasingly permeating the choices consumers are making for owned media too, with increasing numbers of consumers opting to grow their digital collections as well.
Among the Top 10 titles of 2019, digital purchase accounted for 33% of copies sold, with Bohemian Rhapsody and Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame selling in excess of half a million combined digital copies. All of the EST Top 10, including Toy Story 4 and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Venom sold in excess of 175,000 units each.
Among studios, Disney led with 18.6% market share across all formats, and driven by Toy Story 4 (827,000 copies), Mary Poppins Returns (751,000 copies), Ralph Breaks the Internet (360,000 copies), Aladdin (637,000 copies), The Lion King (679,000 copies) and Dumbo (392,000 copies).
Avengers: Endgame sold more than 1.33 million copies to land at second place on the combined chart; Captain Marvel (638,000 copies), and catalog title Avengers: Infinity War (351,000 copies) also featured in the best-selling titles of the year.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continued its reign as the largest disc distributor based on volume driven by its studio slate, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks and Entertainment One.
Rocketman came out on top as Paramount’s best-selling disc title in 2019; Danny Boyle’s Beatles-inspired Yesterday performed well; and even outside of its new release window, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again became Universal’s fourth-best-selling title in 2019. Returning franchises, including How To Train Your Dragon: Hidden World, Johnny English Strikes Again and The Secret Life of Pets 2 saw strong sales, while spinoffs and remakes, including Bumblebee and The Grinch, also boosted the studio’s market share.
Other top-selling titles included Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Warner), which sold more than 662,000 copies including boxed sets, while Venom (Sony) ended the year in eighth place on the combined chart with sales of 653,000.
In the TV content, Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season (Warner) sold more than 192,000 copies in the final four weeks of the year, topping the TV title chart and landing in the top 10 chart for consumer spend on disc, and also helping the “Thrones” catalog secure the title of best-selling TV franchise of 2019.
“Chernobyl” (Acorn Video by RLJ Entertainment) saw sales of 116,000 units, making it the second-highest-selling TV title of the year. BBC Studios continued to see franchise success with “Peaky Blinders” as well as both the new and classic series of “Doctor Who,” the latter of which ranked as the second-highest-selling TV franchise of the year.
U.K. consumer fascination with the Royal Family continued by another year of strong sales for seasons one and two of “The Crown” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) at number four on the TV chart, as well as “The Crown” franchise placing at number four in the TV franchise chart based on volume.
This continued success of TV content launched and accessible via streaming and catch-up services signposts the considerable consumer appetite to own SVOD-driven series on physical formats, also demonstrated by the success of Good Omens (BBC Studios) which landed at number 11 on the TV chart.
Despite the successes of standout titles, the final six months of 2019 saw a significantly reduced release slate, mirroring the smaller theatrical releases seen at the start of the year. BASE expects the 2020 slate to help redress the imbalance from 2019.
A raft of family films, including Frozen 2 (Disney), Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal), Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (Sony) and The Secret Garden (StudioCanal distributed by Elevation Sales) are set to entertain. The U.K.’s unwavering appetite for musical drama will be sated by Lionsgate’s Military Wives and Universal’s Cats; superhero spinoffs and sequels are also aplenty, starting the year with Joker (Warner), followed by Black Widow (Disney), Venom 2 (Sony) and Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner); Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and James Bond actioner No Time to Die (Universal).
“We know that audiences find enormous value in our content and the first half of 2020, packed with diverse new IP as well as must-see franchise titles, should serve as the perfect reminder that in a market of consumers hungry for content, there’s plenty of room for those able to adapt,” said Kevin Dersley, co-vice chair of BASE and managing director of Elevation Sales.