Blu-ray Sales Up 20 Percent in 2011; Brick-and-Mortar Rental Activity Down 28.8 Percent

11:27 AM PST 01/10/2012 by Thomas K. Arnold
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I"

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" and "Part 2" were the top-selling titles of the past year, according to Digital Entertainment Group data.

Blu-ray Disc continued to post remarkable gains in 2011 as overall consumer spending on home entertainment stabilized after several years of precipitous drops, according to numbers released this morning by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Consumers spent a total of $18.04 billion on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and digital sales and rentals during the year, about 2% less than the $18.43 billion they spent in 2010, according to DEG, which bases its figures on studio and retail data.

The box office value of films that came to home entertainment during the year, by comparison, was down 8.7%.

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Blu-ray sales soared above $2 billion for the first time ever, rising 20% in the year, as the number of U.S. households with at least one Blu-ray playback device rose to nearly 40 million, a 38% gain from the prior year.

Total consumer spending on packaged media, Blu-ray and DVD, slipped slightly more than 13% to $8.95 billion from $10.52 billion in 2010. Rental spending (packaged media only) was down 3% to $7.54 billion from $7.6 billion the previous year, with a 28.8% drop in brick-and-mortar rental activity offset by a 31% uptick in the kiosk rental business, mostly Redbox vending machines.

But those declines are to be expected, observers say, as consumers transition to digital delivery, mostly streaming. Overall spending on digital delivery rose 51% to nearly $3.42 billion, up from $2.26 billion in 2010. The largest chunk of that went to VOD ($1.87 billion) and the new category of subscription streaming ($993.6 million), while electronic sellthrough remained a nonstarter at $553.7 million.

DEG also announced the 10 best-selling titles of 2011, although no specific unit sales totals were provided. The top sellers are, in order, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tangled, Cars 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Bridesmaids, Rio, The Help, The Lion King and The Hangover Part 2.

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