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Video Ownership Remains Robust, but will People Jump to Just Buying Digitally?

Consumers' have never had so much choice of movies and ways of getting their hands on it, so why is the disc still king and what's behind the reluctance to adopt just digital as the way to buy movies and video to own and keep? 

Futuresource's latest consumer research unearthed an interesting trend from the results of 20,000 online interviews across 11 countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, China, Japan and South Korea. Although the total number of consumers who are buying video to own and keep remains robust when combing DVD, Blu-ray and Electronic Sell-through (EST) there are very few who only buy EST. 

Using the UK as an example, just over half the adult population buy video to keep, of these 67% only buy DVD's and Blu-rays, 29% buy both digital and DVD's and Blu-rays and that leaves just 4% who buy digital exclusively. The same is true in the US even though more people buy digital than physical, just 5% only buy digital copies. This is despite the number of EST buyers increasing over the past year, but the proportion buying just digital sell-through only has not. 

If people are becoming more familiar with buying digital video overall, why aren't they choosing to buy only digital? It's comes down to collectability and longevity of ownership. 

Looking at the reasons people haven't bought digital ("Cost" and "I have enough other options to watch movies e.g. SVoD") and using the UK respondents again as a benchmark, of respondents who haven't bought any digital video outright, 21% said they hadn't because "I don't feel like I will truly own it forever" with a further 19% ticking "They aren't as collectable as DVD's or Blu-ray's". Interestingly, both reasons were equally important to young and old including the "millennials" who are often stereotyped as preferring to access content rather than owning it. This data is taken from Futuresource's wave 12 edition of its Living with Digital consumer research. 

The above represents a significant challenge, as persuading video buyers to buy a digital copy is difficult, if they don't feel that they will truly own it and perceive it has lower value to the physical counterpart. Part of the problem lies with the relative invisibility of the actual digital product, with the vinyl revolution highlighting consumers' appetite for tangibility is still significant. 

Some insights and perhaps a hint at addressing this issue can be drawn from looking at the other side of this question, of those who have bought digital video, why did you? Overwhelmingly popular was "It was a good price or on promotion" which was cited by 45% of UK respondents (50% in the US), followed by "It was more convenient than buying a DVD or Blu-ray" which was selected by 42% of those in the UK and 43% of US respondents. 

New services such as Sky and Amazon have provided a kicker to the EST markets they are active in, helping propel awareness of EST and communicate the convenience of this format, in particular bringing it to the TV screen rather than a mobile device or PC/laptop. Amazon and Sky have the scale to continue to drive EST, which will be vital in propelling EST to the next level and making more consumers comfortable in making the jump to digital ownership.

About the author

Tristan Veale

About Us

Here at Futuresource Consulting we deliver specialist research and consulting services, providing market forecasts and intelligence reports. Since the 1980s we have supported a range of industry sectors, which has grown to include: CE, Broadcast, Entertainment Content, EdTech and many more.