NPD: First-Quarter 2022 U.S. Consumer Spending on Video Games Decreased 8% to $13.9 Billion

Total consumer spending on video games in the U.S. reached $13.9 billion in the first quarter, ended March 31, a decline of 8% when compared to $15.1 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm said losses were seen across console and portable content, PC, cloud and non-console VR content, mobile content, hardware, and accessories. Mobile contributed most to the decline. Data from Sensor Tower shows U.S. consumer spending in mobile games during the first quarter fell 10% from Q1 2021.

“We witnessed an uncharacteristic quarter-over-quarter decline in mobile game spending by U.S. players coming out of 2021,” Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at Sensor Tower, said in a statement.

Nelson cautioned that while the downturn in mobile game revenue shouldn’t be confused with a loss in consumer interest.

“Usage of the most popular titles continues to grow, with their combined active users up from the first quarter of last year as well from the first quarter of 2019,” Nelson said. “Players are clearly still engaging with favorite games on mobile but have a broader array of alternative entertainment options open to them compared to a year ago as life in the U.S. normalizes.”

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NPD said overall content spending in Q1 reached $12.13 billion, a 7% decrease over Q1 2021. Subscription content was the only segment to post positive gains. Hardware and accessories declined 15% and 16%, respectively.

Among the best-selling and most played games across all platforms in the first quarter were Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Call of Duty: Warzone, Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Coin Master, Elden Ring, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V, Horizon: Forbidden West, Madden NFL 22, Mario Kart 8, Mario Party Superstars, Minecraft, NBA 2K22, Pokémon GO, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Roblox, The Sims 4 and WWE 2K22.

“Despite declines when compared to the first quarter of 2021, industry spending and engagement remained significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels,” said Mat Piscatella, games industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Several factors influenced the changes in spending on video games seen so far this year. These included continued supply constraints on new console hardware, a comparable quarter from last year that included government COVID-19 stimulus checks for individuals, and the return of experiential spending opportunities that had been depressed last year, among others.”

Video game hardware unit sales were led by Nintendo Switch, while Xbox hardware generated the highest dollar sales in the first quarter, a 92% increase when compared Q1 2021.

AMC Entertainment Narrows Q1 Losses Thanks to Superhero Movies

Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home and Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Batman contributed to AMC Entertainment narrowing its first-quarter fiscal loss (ended March 31) to $337.4 million, compared with a net loss of $567.2 million during the previous-year period when the world’s largest exhibitor was operating at less than 50% capacity. Revenue increased to $785.7 million, compared with $148.3 million for the first quarter of 2021.

“Our results represent AMC’s strongest first quarter in two full years,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “We continue on our pandemic recovery trajectory, more than quintupling revenue and improving adjusted [pre-tax income] by nearly 80% compared to a year ago.”

Aron said the cumulative success of the aforementioned titles, along with Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog 2 drove the quarterly revenue gain.

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Indeed, global AMC attendance increased more than 39 million, from 6.8 million a year ago. U.S. theatrical attendance topped 25.8 million, from 6.2 million. International market attendance topped 13.2 million, from 558,000.
AMC operated an average of 10,099 screens in the quarter, compared with 6,724 screens a year ago.

“When Hollywood releases films that moviegoers want to see, people flock to cinemas in huge numbers to watch movies where they were designed to be seen, in theatres, on the big screen,” Aron said.

AMC Networks Streaming Services Added 500,000 Subs in Q1

AMC Networks, whose streaming services include British-themed Acorn TV, AMC+, horror-based Shudder, Sundance Now, ALLBLK, and anime focused HIDIVE, said its direct-to-consumer platforms added a combined 500,000 subscribers in the first quarter ended March 31.

The platforms ended the quarter with 9.5 million subs. AMC says the D2C unit remains on track to achieve long-term subscriber goal of 20 million to 25 million streaming subs by 2025.

Acorn TV and ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel) were acquired through AMC’s 2018 acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment.

In the quarter, AMC launched several free ad-supported streaming TV channels, including AMC en Español, ALLBLK Gems, HIDIVE x ANIME, Shorts, Cortos, and OVERTIME.

“We continue to advance our differentiated strategy of offering streaming services that appeal to audiences with distinct affinities and passions, which is leading to strong consumer loyalty and low churn,” Interim CEO Matt Blank said in a statement.

In the quarter, AMC greenlit AMC+ and AMC original series “The Walking Dead Universe’s Isle of the Dead,” starring Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’ “Straight Man,” starring Bob Odenkirk’ “The Driver,” starring Giancarlo Esposito, and “Orphan Black: Echoes.”

The company reinvented IFC Films’ Pay-1 window to offer exclusive movies on AMC+, every Friday, beginning May 6. It also launched the AMC+ streaming bundle in India on Apple TV Channels. The bundle includes The Walking Dead Experience, Shudder, Sundance Now and IFC Films Unlimited.

Separately, AMC’s “international and other” business segment, which includes RLJ Entertainment, saw revenue decline 9% to $110 million from $120.8 million in the previous-year period.

Amazon Posts $3.8 Billion First-Quarter Loss

Amazon April 28 reported a $3.8 billion loss for the fiscal first quarter ended March 31. The loss included a pre-tax valuation loss of $7.6 billion from the common stock investment in Rivian Automotive. That compared with net income of $8.1 billion during the previous-year period. Net sales increased 7% to $116.4 billion, compared with $108.5 billion in first-quarter 2021.

Video highlights in the quarter included Amazon closing its acquisition of MGM, with MGM employees joining Prime Video and Amazon Studios. The deal complements Prime Video and Amazon Studios’ work in delivering a diverse slate of original films and TV shows to a global audience and will create even more opportunities to deliver quality storytelling to customers.

The teaser trailer for “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” broke a global record for the most-watched entertainment trailer to debut during a Super Bowl telecast, with 257 million views globally in the first 24 hours of its release. The series debuts Sept. 2.

Longtime football announcer Al Michaels and analyst Kirk Herbstreit joined Prime Video as the voices for its exclusive coverage of “NFL Thursday Night Football.” Joining them is executive producer Fred Gaudelli, who marks his 33rd season as the lead producer for the NFL in primetime. The inaugural season under Prime Video’s 11-year agreement begins Sept. 15.

Prime Video became the first streaming service to exclusively carry a major industry award show live with the 57th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which aired on March 7.

“Reacher,” Prime Video’s new drama series starring Alan Ritchson, ranked on Nielsen’s overall streaming Top 10 list for the first three weeks of its premiere, with a No. 1 ranking and more than 1.5 billion minutes watched in its first full week and six consecutive weeks.

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“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” also landed on Nielsen’s top 10 list, with 499 million minutes viewed during the week of its season four premiere and six consecutive weeks in the Top 10 streaming originals list.

Prime Video debuted 30 local originals internationally, including new seasons of the unscripted franchise “LOL” in Canada, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as “Luxe Listings” (Australia), “Mahaan” (India), “Bang Bang Baby” (Italy), and “HOMESTAY” (Japan). New locally produced series and movies launched in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

On April 27, IMDb TV became Freevee. Amazon said the new name better defines the brand and what it offers customers — free, premium streaming content.

‘Star Wars,’ ‘Jumanji,’ ‘Justice League’ Give Late Quarterly Boost to Disc Sales

Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Warner’s Justice League home video releases have given a significant boost to packaged-media sales at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

With continued market share increases by digital delivery, it was looking to be one of the worst quarters for packaged media in memory. Heading into the final three weeks of the quarter, total disc sales looked to be down around 16% to 17% compared with the same period a year ago, according to sales data compiled by Media Play News. Blu-ray Disc specifically was down around 8% in revenue and 11% in units according to MPN’s preliminary estimates of the quarterly results, which should be announced by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group in the next few weeks.

The releases of Justice League, Jumanji and Last Jedi, however, appear to have leveled off the overall revenue drop to about 9% and the combined DVD and Blu-ray unit drop to about 10%.

The first week of Justice League alone (the week ended March 17) nearly wiped out all the quarterly Blu-ray revenue gap, bringing it to about 1% under the previous year. Jumanji brought that number even the week ended March 24, and Last Jedi the week ended March 31 pushed it to about a 5% increase in Blu-ray revenue over last year, and slightly ahead in unit sales as well.

In fact, the first week of Last Jedi even helped push a year-over-year weekly sales increase in the DVD format category for the first time since the week before Christmas in 2016.

By comparison, the 2017 first quarter was down about 12% to 13% overall in both revenue and unit sales from the same period in 2016. Last year’s first quarter ended with the packaged-media releases of Disney’s Moana, Universal’s Sing and Warner’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. (Last year’s big “Star Wars” title, Rogue One, didn’t land on Blu-ray and DVD until the first week of the second quarter.)

Sales Report for Week Ended 03-31-18