Home entertainment spending (mostly streaming) posted a year-over-year increase of 8% to hit $32.3 billion in 2021, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.
The fourth quarter showed particular momentum, with overall consumer spending up more than 11% from the same period in 2020 to reach $8.6 billion. Electronic sell-through purchases, on-demand rentals and subscriptions rose 15% to $8 billion, not counting PVOD or Disney’s Premier Access.
The industry consortium said the tally set a new record, and it noted it would be even higher with premium, day-and-date releases included. For various reasons, the DEG does not include Disney+ Premier Access releases, which carry a $30 upcharge for subscribers. Disney has reported taking in $933 million from the release format in 2021, on top of theatrical proceeds, but that figure also includes pay-per-view events like UFC fights.
Leaving Disney aside, the category the DEG labels “premium,” which is commonly referred to as premium video on demand, or PVOD, reached about $525 million last year. The DEG noted a “lack of robust reporting” across the industry for PVOD, which complicates efforts to track and report the data for all companies.
TV titles were especially potent in 2021, including all four seasons of Paramount Network smash Yellowstone. Due to a licensing deal between ViacomCBS and NBCUniversal, subscribers to NBCU’s Peacock Premium can watch the full series. Even so, ViacomCBS stands to benefit from home entertainment spending on the Western series, which hit $61 million in the fourth quarter, per the DEG. That one show accounted for an outsized share of the $258 million spent on TV titles in the fourth quarter, an increase of 11% from the same period of 2020 and 54% over 2019.
In a previous report issued last fall, the DEG had estimated that about 80% of total home entertainment spending came via streaming. While 2020 saw a surge of streaming and home viewing due to lockdowns and the lack of vaccines for Covid, the reopening of movie theaters and many other parts of the economy nevertheless stimulated more activity on the home front last year.
Physical sales and rentals continue to decline, but the return of movie theaters helped stem the downturn, reflecting the longtime relationship between theaters and home entertainment. Revenue from physical formats fell 14%, but 4K UHD Blu-ray discs ticked up more than 6% in the quarter.
Along with Yellowstone, top-performing titles across all formats included The Croods: A New Age; F9: The Fast Saga; Free Guy; Godzilla vs Kong; Harry Potter – Complete 8-Film Collection; Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; Monster Hunter; No Time to Die; A Quiet Place Part II; Venom: Let There Be Carnage; and Wonder Woman 1984. The DEG did not rank the titles and it noted that premium or PVOD revenue did not factor into them getting a shoutout in the report.
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