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DVD sales plummet as film downloads soar

DVD discs may be consigned to the pages of history

DVD and Blu-ray discs

DVD and Blu-ray discs could soon become a thing of the past

Sales of DVD discs in the US have collapsed in the first quarter of this year and the trend is similar in the UK. If this continues the silver DVD disc could become a thing of the past.

There seems to be an irreversible change in habits underway, as consumers switch to online downloads and movie streaming services. With content so easy to access, on-demand consumers simply aren’t interested in owning films any more.

DVD sales plummet

Sales of DVD discs have been falling since 2007 but the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) has reported that sales in the US have collapsed by a staggering 19% (£1.3bn) in the first quarter of this year. High-street rental is also down by 36%. Online downloads and streaming, by contrast, have grown strongly. A similar effect is being seen in the UK. 

The British Video Association, which tracks UK DVD sales, says ‘we are seeing similar trends’, with services such as Lovefilm and Blinkbox affecting sales of physical discs.

Industry excuses

The industry is keen to offer mitigating circumstances, blaming the late timing of Easter and a relatively weak selection of new releases in the first quarter – the release of the blockbuster Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was held back until April, for example.

They expect DVD sales to bounce back in the second quarter, though the overall trend would still be downwards, and Hollywood realises that the DVD market peaked a long time ago.

Why buy when you can access on-demand?

Dave Holes, Which? DVD expert, says: ‘It’s clear that DVD sales are on the slide. The consumer can no longer see a compelling reason to buy and own movies when you can access content so easily on-demand. 

Not everyone is comfortable yet with streaming movies via the Net but, as more and more of us go down this route, the need to own a physical copy of films will seem increasingly bizarre.’ 

See the latest Which? reviews of high-definition Blu-ray players that can also access online movie-streaming services.

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