Digital movie retailers such as Prime Video, Sky Store, BT TV and Rakuten TV saw a dramatic growth in both customer numbers and sales during the lockdown, according to new data released by the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE).
Data compiled by The Official Charts Company shows consumer spending on ‘buy to keep’ digital purchases soared by 87 per cent in the 12-week period from March 28, compared to the same period the year before.
This growth saw the market share of downloads increase from 37% in the twelve weeks immediately before lockdown to 51%. In 2019 the equivalent 12-week period to lockdown saw digital sales of 29%.
While the sector was already enjoying organic year-on-year growth prior to lockdown, the fall in high street shopping and delays in the delivery of online orders helped further boost sales.
Despite this, physical disc sales still accounted for 49% of all sales in the period, with BASE suggesting this resilience was down to “premium formats like Blu-ray and 4k UHD continuing to appeal and an increased engagement from consumers with TV box sets on disc”.
It also notes that high sales across all formats “can to some extent be attributed to a strong and engaging” line-up of releases including major titles such as Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, Jumanji: The Next Level and 1917.
Lockdown also saw several titles, including the widely acclaimed The Invisible Man and the big-screen reboot of Fantasy Island, released early on digital platforms following the closure of cinemas.
Despite such titles being priced at the premium end of the market, the average selling price for digital transactions fell slightly during the lockdown as households sought out bargains.
Titles released pre-2010 represented 38 per cent of all digital sales during the period, with consumers revisiting classics such as Forrest Gump, Top Gun, Grease and Apocalypse Now.
Research by Kantar has revealed that 1.8 million new customers either bought or rented digital content during lockdown, taking the total number of customers in the period to a record high of 5.5 million.
Liz Bales, Chief Executive at BASE, said: “With nearly two million new customers buying or renting entertainment content from a digital store during the lockdown period and contributing to the wider transactional video market returning to growth, the digital transactional market has been a beneficiary of the fact that the government’s Stay Home policy provided the right environment for it to flourish.
“With new release and catalogue content available instantly and without subscription, digital content has been able to play an important role for many in providing some much-needed light relief from the reality of lockdown.”
“The fact that more than half of consumers anticipate they will maintain habits formed during lockdown, such as engaging more broadly with digital delivery, underlines the need for the video category to optimise around the opportunity delivered by the growth it has seen.”