Discs Hold On in Our Streaming World

It should come as no surprise that nearly three quarters (73%) of Americans age 12 and up are “actively consuming movies and TV shows for home viewing,” according to Nielsen statistics. What may surprise you is that only 12% of consumers are “digital-only consumers of entertainment.”

Four in 10 (41%) consumers buy and rent content both “physically and digitally” while one in five (20%) say they buy or rent only physical discs, according to Nielsen’s Home Entertainment Consumer Trends report, which is based on an online survey of nearly 3,000 U.S. consumers aged 12-74.

Even though digital content does not account for the majority of purchases and rentals, it still takes up the majority of consumers’ entertainment time, Nielsen said. Consumers reported on average spending 25% less time during a typical week watching movies or TV shows on disc compared with digital viewing, most of which is done via subscription streaming services.

Overall, consumers reported that 19% of their total viewing hours over the past week were spent on digital content, including 10% on subscription streaming of movies, 4% on movies and TV shows owned digitally, 4% on video on demand via cable or satellite, and 1% on movies rented digitally online for a one-time fee.

By comparison, consumers reported spending 11% of their entertainment hours on physical content (7% on movies and TV shows purchased on disc and 4% on rentals). The remaining viewing time was spent watching live and time-shifted TV, playing video games, and going out to a movie theater.

Even though time spent watching discs is limited, consumers still reported spending about twice as much on physical disc purchases and rentals than on digital ones in the past month. Ten percent of consumer dollars last month went towards TV/movie disc purchases and 6% towards physical rentals, whereas only a combined 9% went towards digital consumption.

Some consumer groups in the study were not price conscious, including the under-35 males who were defined as “content kings” because of their heavy purchases and rentals of discs and digital content. On the whole, however, both digital and physical entertainment purchases are carefully thought out. And more frugal segments, such as “old school homebodies” (older adults) and “cordless creatives” (largely Millennials), take spending into account before consuming.

Consumers on the whole indicated a rising preference in free (and subscription streaming) TV content over going to the movie theater or even watching movies in general, according to the Nielsen survey.