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Digital entertainment sales pass £1bn for the first time in 2012

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UK consumers for the first time spent more than £1bn buying music, videos and games in digital formats in 2012, according to the Entertainment Retailers Assocation (ERA).

But while £1.033bn was spent online – 11.4% more than in 2011 – digital still accounted for only a quarter of all UK entertainment sales. CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray and videogames make up just over three-quarters of the market, even though such sales were down by 17.6% in 2012 compared with the previous year.

“Breaching the £1bn barrier is an incredible achievement for the UK’s digital entertainment retailers and 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,” said ERA director general Kim Bayley.

“At the same time I suspect 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 ERA figures, which draw on data from the Official Charts Company for physical music and video and digital music, GfK Chart-Track data on physical sales of videogames, and IHS Screen Digest estimates of digital video and videogame sales, suggest that the biggest digital sector “by far” is videogames, worth £552.2m. Digital sales of video grew by 20.3% while digital sales of music grew by 15.1%.

Bayley said: “Despite digital’s seemingly inexorable growth, the CD, the DVD and the physical games disc show incredible resilience. It is nearly nine years since iTunes launched in the UK yet over 60% of music sales are still accounted for by physical formats. It is clearly way too soon to write off the CD and in video, digital barely gets a look in. Physical formats still account for three quarters of the entertainment market.”

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