U.S. consumer spending on home entertainment hit a new record in 2018, buoyed by subscription streaming as well as transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group announced Jan. 8.

Total consumer spending on home entertainment during the year shot up to an estimated $23.3 billion, up 11.5% from 2017, the DEG said, noting that figures are preliminary. Final numbers will be issued in early February.

As expected, subscription streaming – chiefly through Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu – led the way, with a 30% year-over-year gain to $12.9 billion.
Consumers spent an estimated $2.46 billion on digital purchases of movies, TV shows and other content, up 14.4% from what they spent in 2017.

Consumers spent another $2.09 billion to stream movies on demand, the electronic equivalent of renting a DVD or Blu-ray Disc, up 6.2% from the prior year.
Total spending on TVOD, the DEG estimates, came in at $4.55 billion, a healthy 10.5% spike from TVOD spending in 2017.

Total disc sales continued to fall, despite the growing popularity of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, with consumer spending on physical media in 2018 coming in at an estimated $4.03 billion, a 14.6% drop from the prior year.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, home entertainment spending was particularly strong, with an overall gain of 13% to $6.3 billion.

Subscription streaming the fourth quarter was up 30% to an estimated $3.49 billion, while EST rose 20.2% to $664 million and on-demand streaming was up 21.8% to nearly $517 million.

Combined consumer spending on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs in the fourth quarter of 2018 was $1.24 billion, down 14.8% from the fourth quarter of 2017.

Sales of 4K UHD content rose 70% during the year and 46% in the fourth quarter. The number of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles available in the market grew to 445 titles, with another 682 4K titles available digitally.

The U.S. box-office performance of films released in the year rose nearly 15%, to around $12 billion, per the DEG report.

4K UHD TV penetration rose 61% over the year-earlier period, to 48 million households. Also during the year, penetration of 4K-capable player devices (game consoles and set-top boxes) rose 66%, to 13 million homes.

Thomas K. Arnold is editorial director of Media Play News.

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