Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Streaming trumping digital video sales and rentals?

Variety reports on a study by GfK about the prevalence of digital video purchases and rentals:

So much for digital dollars: A majority of consumers has never rented or bought a digital copy of a movie or TV show, according to a new GfK study. What’s more, the average digital media collection is much smaller than physical disc collections or even VHS collections have been on average.

46 percent of consumers have ever bought or rented a digital movie or TV show, according to GfK’s recent Home Technology Monitor. In contrast, 86 percent of consumers have rented or bought a DVD or Blu-ray in the past, and 78 percent have done so with a VHS tape.

At first blush, digital seems like it’s been slow on the uptake, but it seems like one big reason for that is the uptake of subscription streaming services–GfK says 78 percent of people who haven’t rented or bought digital video are using streaming services, compared to 92 percent of people who have. (It’s unclear whether that includes things like On Demand cable.)

I’d been hoping for a little more breakdown of digital rental vs. purchase. The closest they get is talking about relative collection sizes: “peak collection size” for DVDs was 87 compared to 23 digital movies.

Personally, I’ll rent movies pretty frequently via iTunes or Amazon, but I own only three digital movies. I don’t tend to watch a lot of movies more than once, and the prevalence of streaming and rental means that it’s usually a better cost trade off for me. (That said, my friends with kids do definitely end up rewatching the same things over and over again, so that’s a different value proposition.)

Digital purchases also seem to get discounted less frequently than even physical copies, so it’s possible more people are still buying Blu-rays and even DVDs from the local bargain bin, or via Amazon. Me, I just don’t want to stuff anymore discs on my bookcase if I can help it.

—Linked by Dan Moren

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