Q1: Disc Sales Drop, Subscription Streaming Sales Up 545%

While overall home video spending increased 2.5% in the first quarter of 2012. There is no good news here for Hollywood -- at least the Hollywood terrified of streaming and Redbox:

The Digital Entertainment Group may suggest that the period of steep declines in home video spending — largely driven by the collapse of the DVD market — is over. But it also may just reflect the fact that the quarter had more popular movies: Films available on home video in the quarter did 12.5% better at the box office than did comparable releases last year. Whatever the reason, total sales of DVD and Blu-ray discs fell just 0.6%[.] ...

Spending on subscription streaming services such as Netflix was up 545.4% to $548.6M while digital VOD from providers including Apple’s iTunes was up 6.8% to $505.3M.

If I'm reading the rest of the analysis correctly, Redbox sales skyrocketed 30.1% and two million Ultraviolet accounts were opened, which allows consumers to purchase a film, upload it online, and watch it on mobile devices and computers. In other words, more people are getting used to and falling in love with the idea of streaming their home entertainment.

The bottom line is that disc sales still fell, and that's Hollywood's bread and butter. Moreover, the films released on disc this quarter did 12.5% better at the box office than the previous quarter, and the sales of those discs still went backwards.

With streaming being such a new technology, that 545% increase isn't the bombshell it sounds like. But it does show what could be a major trend -- the next (and final) evolution in home video delivery. As I never tire of pointing out, though, the ramifications of this could be legion:

1. The end of bundled cable, and with it the end of low-rated networks propped up by cable packages.

2. The end of a very few bottle-necking distribution to their tastes.

3. The end of limited choices for consumers, choices made by that very few.

4. The end of broadcast networks.

If everything is available at the click of a remote through a few low-priced subscription streaming services, culturally our country will spread out even more as we search out programming more in line with our own values. "Gunsmoke" will be just as available as "Glee," and the portal (networks) through which we are told what is and isn't cool will be greatly diminished. This loosens Hollywood's grip in their ongoing crusade to interfere and insert themselves between parent and child. 

The whole idea of "channels" or "networks" will evaporate, as will appointment television and a lot of advertising. So much of the left's cultural stranglehold on our country runs through these devices. Obviously, they won't go away entirely, but there's a major loss of power that comes with the loss of owning a network that is now a relic.

Pretty exciting.


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