Digital downloads break through the £1bn barrier

A quarter of the home entertainment market is now digital, with more than £1bn being spent on downloaded films, music and games in 2012, according to the latest figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

That's an increase of 11.4% over 2011. The same figures show a big drop in sales of physical, disc-based media. Sales of CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games fell by 17.6% in 2012, although they still account for around three quarters of the market.

Video games accounted for more than half of digital sales at £552m (+8%). Films and music had a smaller share of the digital market but grew more sharply, with downloaded films up by 20% and music by 15%.

Kim Bayley, director general of the ERA, says that breaking the £1bn barrier was an "incredible achievement" for retailers.

"This reflects their huge investment in new and innovative services – which means you can buy music, video and games literally at any time of the day and wherever you are.

"At the same time I suspect that many people will be surprised to learn just how resilient the physical business still is – with three-quarters of entertainment sales still on disc.

"Downloads offer convenience and portability, but people still seem to value the quality and tangibility of a physical product."

The complete breakdown of digital sales is as follows:

• Music £383m (up 15.1% on 2011)

• Films/video £98m (+20.3%)

• Video games £552m (+7.7%)

• Total: £1,033m (+11.4%)

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.