US digital home entertainment spend up 23%

Digital distribution, which includes electronic sell-through (EST) and video-on-demand (VOD), is firmly established in the US, having made up 13.5% of the overall consumer spend in home entertainment year-to-date. EST climbed 37% to $432 million (€309 million) and VOD was up 20% to $1.2 billion year-to-date, a combined growth of 23% to $1.7 billion.

According to the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), consumer spending for the first three quarters of 2010 in the home entertainment window for pre-recorded entertainment, which includes DVD, Blu-ray disc and digital distribution, reached $12.6 billion, 4% less than the same period last year. Consumer transactions for home entertainment products were flat for the year.

Blu-ray disc continued to make significant contributions into the third quarter, with sell-through up 80% to $1 billion year-to-date. Packaged media sell-through, which includes DVD and Blu-ray disc, declined 8% year-to-date. However, the considerable growth of electronic sell- through helped offset this decline, bringing overall sell-through up 2%, off just 6% year-to-date.

Blu-ray hardware sales continued to climb in the first three quarters of the year as well, selling more than three million set-top units, an increase of 104% over the same period last year. This brings the total installed base of Blu-ray disc playback devices in the US to 21.1 million units.

“While we continue to encounter tough market conditions, there are a number of positive trends emerging, particularly in some of the industry’s key growth areas,” said Ron Sanders, president, DEG and president, Warner Home Video, in a statement. “Blu-ray continues to show strong growth in every category, new release packaged media sell-through is up, and digital distribution is gaining significant momentum as we move into the fourth quarter.”

According to Rentrak Corporation’s Home Video Essentials, rental spending was down 4.4% to $4.4 billion year-to-date, with DVD and Blu-ray kiosk revenue up 55% and Blu-ray rental spending up 40%.

Blu-ray discs shipped to retail in the first three quarters of 2010 topped 98 million, up 57% over the comparable period in 2009, according to figures compiled by Swicker & Associates on behalf of the DEG. Household penetration of Blu-ray disc compatible devices, including set-top players and PlayStation 3 consoles, has now reached 21.1 million US homes.