NPD: U.S. Households Have More Than 1 Billion Connected Devices

Consumer technology sales have seen historic growth since the pandemic began as consumers purchased new products to meet their growing technology needs or upgraded existing devices. While the COVID-19 pandemic turned homes into places of work, school and entertainment, the number of media devices used grew and changed to accommodate the changing lifestyle. New data from The NPD Group found that by February 2021, U.S. households had more than 1 billion devices installed, connected and able to deliver digital content to a screen.

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According to NPD’s Device Ownership Trends & Profile Report, from February 2020 through February 2021 there was an increase of more than 100 million TV-connected and mobile devices installed in U.S. households. As of February 2021, U.S. internet homes have an average of 9.5 installed and connected devices, up from 8.5 in February 2020. These devices include connected TVs, streaming media players, Blu-ray disc players, video game consoles, laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones.

“Stay-at-home orders issued as a result of the pandemic played a part in the tremendous growth we saw in TV-connected and mobile devices last year as consumers looked for new or different ways to consume content while at home more often than they might otherwise be,” John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst with NPD, said in a statement. “This influx of newer hardware and the growing installed base will continue to facilitate the accelerated growth … during 2021 and beyond.”

NPD: March Sets Another Monthly Video Game Revenue Record

Another month, another 30 days generating record billions of dollars in sales of video games, hardware and accessories. New data from The NPD Group found that gamers spent record $5.61 billion in March, which was up 18% from $4.75 billion spent in the previous-year period.

Through 90 days of 2021, video game spending is up 30% to $14.92 billion from $11.47 billion last year.

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Main revenue drivers include next-generation game consoles from Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. But notably, the biggest seller in the month was the Nintendo Switch, which outsold the PS5 and Xbox Series X combined in unit sales. The PS5, however, remains the fastest-selling console in U.S. history in terms of units and dollars. Hardware sales skyrocketed 47% to $680 million, from $462.5 million a year earlier.

Software sales grew 14% to $4.63 billion, from $4 billion a year earlier, while accessories sales leaped 26% to $300 million, from $238 million. Accessories are up 42% through 90 days to $717 million, from $505 million last year.

NPD: Book-to-SVOD Adaptations Don’t Always Boost Book Sales

A page-to-screen adaptation has typically been an easy way to boost a book’s sales. Some readers prefer to read a book before seeing it on screen, others are drawn to the book after they watch the story on screen, but it was widely believed that a movie or TV-show adaptation would reliably elevate a book’s long-term sales.

That predictable pattern is holding for original adaptations from streaming services, now that Netflix and other SVOD services have become mainstream, according to new data from The NPD Group. However, not all page-to-screen releases on streaming services perform the same.

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NPD recently gathered streaming video data for Netflix’s “Bridgerton” and A Wrinkle in Time (Disney+), placing it alongside U.S. print books sales data from NPD BookScan. The side-by-side comparison revealed the effects of streaming video on book sales, providing additional insight into page-to- screen book sales.

“Book sales are generally bolstered by related video content appearing on Netflix and other streaming services, but the release timing, previous box-office movie releases, and other factors also play an important role,” analyst Kristen McLean said in a statement. “In some cases, when a high-profile original adaptation is released by a streaming service, the sales spike for related books is large and immediate. However, the same can’t be said for every show or movie, especially if the project had a previous release in some form.”

Bridgerton on Netflix has become the exemplar for what a streaming-native adaptation can do for a book series, boosting corresponding books sales by the thousands, according to the NPD. Interest in the book has continued, even after series viewing declined, with the TV tie-in book edition outperforming other formats.

The second book in the series, The Viscount Who Loved Me, experienced a delayed increase in sales as people first discovered the series, catching up as the “Bridgerton” SVOD interest spread.

“SVOD has definitely reached the point where it can generate the buzz to support integrated marketing campaigns that increase book sales, but it’s not always the case,” McLean said.

Indeed, the movie version of A Wrinkle in Time first premiered at the box office in February 2018, followed by its debut on Netflix in September 2018. The box office release had a big impact on book sales, pushing it to the top of the best-seller list for kids throughout 2018, but the move to Netflix (now on Disney+) had a far less dramatic impact on additional book sales.

“It is likely that those who were most engaged with A Wrinkle in Time purchased the book alongside the theatrical release during the initial marketing period, and sales and readership for the story were already saturated by the time the show hit Netflix,” McLean said. “Original content tends to have a stronger impact on SVOD viewing and consumer discovery, which pays dividends with book sales.”

NPD: February Video Game Sales Top Record $4.6 Billion

The skyrocketing ride for the video game industry shows no signs of slowing. New data from The NPD Group found that sales of games, hardware and accessories hit a record $4.6 billion in February, up 35% from $3.4 billion in the previous-year period.

The cross-category spike is due in part to year-over-year comparisons with a non-COVID-19 month versus the current climate that has seen a spike in gaming underscored by new consoles from Microsoft’s Xbox platform and Sony Interactive Entertainment’s PlayStation 5, as well as government-mandated isolation.

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Year-to-date spending was up 39% to $9.31 billion, from $6.7 billion a year ago. Hardware revenue increased 121% to $406 million, from $335.5 million. Notably, Nintendo’s Switch game unit outsold the PS5 in February, with unit sales and revenue rivaling the 2009 debut the Nintendo Wii.

Accessories spiked 41% to $195 million from $138.3 million, while packaged media and digital content revenue increased 30% to $3.99 billion, from $3.06 billion a year earlier.

The top-selling game in February was Nintendo’s Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, which supplanted Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.


NPD: Consumer Electronics Promotions Dipped During Pandemic

In a year that many Americans relied on home media devices to stay entertained and connected with family, friends, work, and school — the U.S. consumer technology industry in 2020 saw a historic 17% uptick in sales compared with 2019 — and a drop in price promotions, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Supply constraints and cost increases brought on by the pandemic saw the industry downshift the level of consumer electronics promotional activity from April to December 2020 compared with the same time period in 2019. This resulted in a four-point decline in the number of CE units sold on promotion from 39% of total units sold in 2019 to 35% of total units sold in 2020.

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While that decline might seem small, a recent NPD Price and Discount analysis reveals that the biggest shift was in the level of discounting that occurred. High demand categories, such as TVs and PCs, where promotion is often a driver of marketing and demand, not only saw a decline in the number of products sold on promotion, but a significant shift to lower discount levels than in the previous year.

For TVs, the total share of sales on promotion dropped from 60% of volume in 2019 to 29% in 2020. But even more crucially in the largest screens NPD also saw a decline in the depth of the promotion. In 2019, 81% of TVs 60-inches and above sold on promotion saw a discount of at least 10%, but that percentage dropped to 67% in 2020. Similar trends were observed in notebooks where the $500+ class saw a decline in promotional depth, with the total number of items sold with at least a 10% discount declining from 78% of promotional sales to 70%.

The shift away from more aggressive promotions, combined with a sales mix favoring premium products, resulted in a 3% increase in the average selling price (ASP). In the under $500 notebook segment, where promotional volume share fell from 60% to 32%, the ASP for a promoted product increased more than 10%.

“Interestingly, products that were promoted saw ASPs rise as the level of discounts declined and consumers chose to trade-up to more premium products,” Stephen Baker, VP, industry advisor for The NPD Group, said in a statement. “Discounting during this time was used much more strategically to target specific products and categories, where there was an opportunity to create incremental demand or gain market share versus the normal focus of using promotions to create demand.”

NPD: January Video Game Sales Reached Record $4.7 Billion

Strong video game sales momentum continued into 2021 as consumers seek hard-to-get new-generation gaming systems from Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. Consumer spending across game hardware, content and accessories reached a record $4.7 billion, up 42% from $3.3 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Hardware sales totaled $319 million, up 144% from sales of $131 million a year ago. Accessories sales totaled $222 million, up 73% from revenue of $128 million. Software sales reached $4.17 billion, up 36% from revenue of $3 billion a year ago.

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Top 20 January physical and full-game digital games based on dollar sales:

Rank December 2020 Rank Title Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard
2 3 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 4 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony
4 5 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 6 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
6 7 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
7 19 Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo
8 26 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard
9 11 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
10 8 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive
11 10 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
12 14 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
13 9 Immortals: Fenyx Rising Ubisoft
14 20 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
15 12 Just Dance 2021 Ubisoft
16 17 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
17 31 Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition Microsoft
18 2 Cyberpunk 2077* Warner Bros. Interactive
19 18 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
20 40 UFC 4 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included


NPD: December Video Game Revenue Skyrocketed 25%; Yearly Revenue Reached Record $57 Billion

The pandemic and new game systems helped drive December video game revenue to $7.7 billion, up 25% from $6.1 billion during the previous-year period. 2020 also set an all-time high in revenue with $56.9 billion, an increase of 27% from $44.3 billion in 2019, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The November launches of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Series S consoles contributed to hardware revenue jumping 38% to $1.35 billion from $978 million last year — the highest hard ware sales in eight years. The tally almost equaled $1.41 billion in hardware sales in 2019.

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While Sony and Microsoft hardware get the headlines, it was Nintendo’s Switch that quietly proved to be the best hardware seller throughout 2020 when it comes to unit sales and revenue. NPD said 2020 Switch sales were the best for a hardware device since the Nintendo Wii in 2008.

Accessories revenue spiked 15% to $546 million from $475 million last year. Accessories totaled $2.6 billion in 2020, up 21% from $2.14 billion in 2019. Sony’s DualSense Wireless Controller was the best-selling gamepad, while Turtle Beach’s Ear Force Recon 70 Gaming Headset Black for Xbox was the best-selling headgear.

Software sales in December rose 23% to $5.8 billion from $4.71 billion in 2019. Full-year sales jumped 26% to $48.98 billion, compared with $38.8 billion a year ago.

The top-selling title in December and 2020 was Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision), followed by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons.


Samsung, Roku, Sonos Among Top Brands in NPD’s Consumer Electronics Awards

The NPD Group’s technology division announced the winners of its annual Consumer Electronics Industry Performance Awards, honoring Samsung for its LCD TVs, Sonos for its soundbars and Roku for its streaming media player, among other companies.

Among the top increases in market share in North America, Samsung took the top prize for LCD TVs. Among the fastest-turning brands per item in the United States, Canada and Mexico, Sonos was the top U.S. soundbar. And among the top increases in online market share in the United States, Roku was the top streaming media player.

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“After an unprecedented year, we at NPD are excited to take a moment to acknowledge the many silver linings the consumer technology market experienced in the midst of the pandemic,” Ian Hamilton, president, technology sector, The NPD Group, said in a statement. “In this fifth year of our CE Industry Performance Awards we are recognizing brands that saw success providing consumers with products that enabled them to work and learn from home, as well as stay entertained and connected in their downtime. Congratulations to all award winners — we wish everyone a healthy and successful 2021.”

NPD: Domestic TV Installed Base Getting Bigger, Newer

Few things can drive television purchases and screen size upgrades more than a pandemic. That trend emerges in new data from The NPD Group that found in the last several years American TV screens have been getting bigger. Among installed TVs, 15% are 60 inches or larger, up from 11% a year ago — and newer — the average unit age is 4.9 years old, down from 5.4 years in 2019.

According to NPD’s TV Ownership Trends Report, the average size of a replacement TV jumped to 51 inches from 49 inches in November 2019, and up from 47 inches in November 2018.

“This year home entertainment became even more crucial as consumers spent more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” analyst John Buffone said in a statement. “TV sales, among other tech items, saw strong interest and as a result we saw notable shifts in the installed base.”

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Buffone attributed the surge in TV purchases to consumers housebound without the ability to go to the movies or live entertainment, including sports.

“Americans shifted spending to technology that offered at-home opportunities to consume content,” said.

In 2020 year to date, TV sales are up 19% compared with the same period in 2019. Through Cyber Monday week, 65-inch TV sales increased 27% versus 2019, while 70-inch and above TVs increased by 82%. In total, 65-inch and above TVs made up 21% of sales, increasing from 18% in 2019 and 13% in 2018. NPD projects that by 2022, 65-inch and above TVs will be 27% of sales.

While screen size is a key motivator, features such as high-dynamic-range imaging (HDR) and apps are continuing to matter more as consumers consider replacement purchases. In fact, HDR now impacts 13% of replacement TV sales and the availability of apps reportedly impact 31% of replacement TV sales, up from 23% a year ago.

“This year consumers saw the value in bigger screens and newer, more modern technology to support their entertainment needs,” said Stephen Baker, VP and industry advisor for The NPD Group. “This commitment to new technology and the value it can provide to the consumer will be key for the continued growth in larger-screen TVs in 2021 and beyond.”

NPD: New Consoles Drive 35% Increase in November Consumer Video Game Spending

Spurred by a record $1.4 billion in hardware spending on new-generation consoles, November video game spending increased 35% to a record $6.97 billion, according to new data from The NPD Group. Sales of Microsoft Xbox Series X and Series S units, coupled with PlayStation 5, upped hardware sales 58% from $886 million from the previous-year period.

Hardware sales through 11 months approached $4 billion, up 34% from last year. Accessories increased 8% to $314 million, from $290.7 million. Year-to-date, accessory sales are up 22% to $2.07 billion, from $1.69 billion, driven by Sony’s DualSense Wireless Controller.

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Software revenue increased 32% $5.24 billion, compared with $3.96 billion last year. Year-to-date revenue is up 21% to $38.4 billion, from $31.73 billion. Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was the top-selling title of the year, marking 13 straight years the franchise has topped annual software sales.

Through 11 months of the year, total video game spending is up 22% to $44.5 billion, from $36.47 billion last year.