Hollywood rises! Powered by such superhero smashes as Marvel’s The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Amazing Spider-Man, not to mention The Hunger Games, movie theatre box office currently tops $6 billion (more than half the way toward last year’s cumulative box office of $10.1 billion, according to Box Office Mojo). There is further good news for studios on the home entertainment front, where consumer spending reached $8.4 billion, a 1.4 percent increase over the same period in 2011.
Rising to Hollywood’s rescue is subscription streaming, according to figures released Sunday by the studio-backed Digital Entertainment Group.. In the second quarter, for the first time, digitally delivered movies topped physical movie rentals, with consumers spending $1.2 billion on streamed movies, an 81 percent increase over last year.
Subscription streaming increased five-fold, hitting $548.6 million in the first half of 2012, up from $85 million in the same period last year. This is being attributed to Netflix's initiative to wean consumers from physical discs. Overall subscription revenue for the first six months of this year increased 18.6 percent to $896.6 million, while TV viewers spent $478 million on video on demand fare from cable and satellite. This category was up 11.6 percent from the first half of 2011
Just in the nick of time, as physical media sales were down about 3.6 percent. DVD rentals from stores and kiosks fell to nearly $1.1 billion, a 27 percent decline. A 13.3 percent increase in spending on Blu-ray discs helped to compensate for DVD’s ride into the sunset. Blu-ray catalog sales were up 26 percent. Sellthrough spending (meaning discs that are priced to encourage purchase) was off only by a few percentage points, a much less severe decline than the double-digit losses that have been posted in recent years.
Sales of Blu-ray-compatible players reached 1.4 million in the second quarter. The number of U.S. households with at least one such device is up to 42.1 million. A new related category, Ultraviolet digital copy subscriptions, surpassed four million household accounts. This so called "bridge technology" allows viewers to own a copy of movie that can be played on a physical disc or stored digitally on a remote server. Studios are increasingly packaging digital copies with traditional DVDs and Blu-rays.
High-definition content is in high demand. Sales of HDTVs in the second quarter reached 4.6 million. Eighty million households now own at least one HDTV.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.