Online movie streaming will overtake DVD sales this year in U.S.

By on March 23, 2012, 3:00 PM

For the first time ever, more films will be watched online (legally) than purchased in the United States, according to IHS Screen Digest. The analytics firm estimates that Americans will watch 3.4 billion movies online in 2012, a figure that is considerably larger than the 2.4 billion DVD and Blu-ray discs expected to sell. This year's projected sales figures are actually down from last year's total of 2.6 billion.

IHS' figures ignore illicit sources (ie. P2P networks, underground websites and curb-side sellers) and only takes into consideration official channels for streaming entertainment (eg. iTunes, Netflix, Hulu). Amazon and Netflix accounted for 94 percent of all movies legally watched online. 

Although there is no denying that consumers are adopting Internet-based video distribution, the figures seem unfair. IHS points to Netflix as a major component of digital growth, but Netflix is actually more analogous to Blockbuster than Best Buy. It would seem the omission of video rentals makes online movie streaming versus physical disc sales somewhat "apples to oranges" in comparison.

Also in the report, IHS found a huge price disparity between physical and online sales. According to the firm, consumers paid 51 cents for each movie watched while physically purchased discs rang up at an average of $4.72. Online viewing is projected to generate $1.7 billion this year while physical media will surpass the $11 billion mark.

However, I caution readers to take these numbers as you will. These figures include Netflix, Hulu and other a la carte subscription models. A comparison between such subscription-based "rental" services versus physical sales figures seems somewhat inappropriate.




User Comments: 13

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Guest said:

Hopefully streaming services start streaming with decent bitrates soon.

ramonsterns said:

Guest said:

Hopefully streaming services start streaming with decent bitrates soon.

Hopefully streaming services start streaming new movies soon.

howzz1854 said:

for the love of god.. give us surround sound for streaming already!!!

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

ramonsterns said:

Guest said:

Hopefully streaming services start streaming with decent bitrates soon.

Hopefully streaming services start streaming new movies soon.

Wouldn't that mean bad news for movie theaters?

ramonsterns said:

NTAPRO said:

ramonsterns said:

Guest said:

Hopefully streaming services start streaming with decent bitrates soon.

Hopefully streaming services start streaming new movies soon.

Wouldn't that mean bad news for movie theaters?

Why would movie theaters be worried about something they're not airing?

I mean I want to watch movies that have been out on DVD already. Preferably without having to wait a year or more until it finally shows up online, if ever.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

ramonsterns said:

NTAPRO said:

ramonsterns said:

Guest said:

Hopefully streaming services start streaming with decent bitrates soon.

Hopefully streaming services start streaming new movies soon.

Wouldn't that mean bad news for movie theaters?

Why would movie theaters be worried about something they're not airing?

I mean I want to watch movies that have been out on DVD already. Preferably without having to wait a year or more until it finally shows up online, if ever.

Oh that makes sense. I was just mislead by "start streaming new movies soon"

anguis said:

There is a gap between when the theatres stop showing a movie, and when it is released on DVD. It can't be watched or purchased or anything in that time - besides being pirated.

I'm still waiting for live HD sports to come alive online....until then I must keep my cable TV (as unfortunate as that is).

treetops treetops said:

I have netflix and will still download the same movie they offer off of the pirate bay because the quality sucks.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Redbox......for fast, fast, relief from all this contention.

Guest said:

I agree. Until streaming services and Internet bandwidth support the resolutions and audio fidelity of DVD and Blu-ray discs, the streaming will only be for the convenience.

Most home theaters (most that I know of) have 5.1 surround and HD LCD TVs. Until I can watch a movie online in true HD 1920x1080 and uncompressed PCM or DTS surround, I will be renting or buying DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

Guest said:

you want a difference then come to Canada only two streaming services and its way slow and way behind in movie selection

apple seems to be now streaming in Canada on a limited amount that's if you buy the box without the box its only Netflix

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I wonder if the increase in the price of Blu Ray and Dvd's had an effect on this.

captaincranky said:

Redbox......for fast, fast, relief from all this contention.

Unless you don't have access to one then you're stuck. With all of the blockbusters gone in Canada and Rogers Video stores in short supply renting a movie has become next to impossible.

Guest said:

Can't stream in New Zealand. The ISPs see to that when think 2GB per month is "normal" broadband usage and 20Gb per month is "heavy user". Sucks!

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