In its annual Theatrical Home Entertainment Market Environment report, the Motion Picture Association of America described an immensely sharp drop-off of physical media sales over the past five years. According to the data, which was obtained from DEG and IHS Markit, global sales of video disc formats (which in this context means DVD, Blu-ray, and UltraHD Blu-ray) were $25.2 billion in 2014 but only $13.1 in 2018. That’s a drop in the ballpark of 50 percent.
Don’t expect 8K Blu-rays or other emerging quality-focused formats to turn the tide, either. Market data published by Forbes showed that the aging, low-definition DVD format still accounts for 57.9 percent of physical media sales, and 4K Blu-rays are only 5.3 percent.
Samsung introduced the very first UltraHD (that’s the industry certification for 4K discs) Blu-ray in 2015 but told the press it was stopping manufacture of Blu-ray players in the US this year—and not just 4K ones, either. Chinese OEM Oppo made a similar announcement last year, though Sony and Panasonic continue to make dedicated Blu-ray players. Also, Microsoft and Sony’s game consoles still play Blu-rays.
With drops that sharp, you’d expect apocalyptic financials for companies making and distributing movies. However, while there are certainly losers in this trend, the overall industry actually grew over the same period. Home entertainment spending grew 16 percent in 2018 thanks to surges in consumer spending on digital video services from players like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
The global number of subscriptions to online streaming services grew 27 percent to 613.3 million in 2018, surpassing cable subscriptions (at 556 million) for the first time ever. However, cable still drives more overall revenue than streaming—it was the highest revenue platform in 2018, with $118 billion globally.
Subscriptions are expected to grow significantly over the next couple of years, as major players like Disney, Apple, and WarnerMedia introduce new streaming services to compete with existing players like HBO and Netflix.
The report covers the video content industry broadly, and it also found that movie theater revenues were up very slightly last year and that 75 percent of US and Canadian consumers went to see at least one movie at a theater in 2018. You can view the MPAA’s full report for more details like breakdowns by film, gender, race, rating, and so on.