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UK home entertainment outstrips print

March 2, 2018

The British public spent more money on music, video and games in 2017 than on books, magazines and newspapers, according to official figures published for the first time in the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) Yearbook.

It is the first time in history that revenues from entertainment exceeded those of the printed word.

The key driver is the dramatic growth of digital services from the likes of Spotify, Steam, Netflix, Amazon, Deezer, Sky, Apple and Google.

According to research prepared for ERA by the Leisure Industries Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, Britons spent £7.2 billion (€8.09) on music, video and games in 2017 compared with £7.1 billion on books, magazines and newspapers.

While entertainment sales reached an all-time-high for the third year in succession, spending on the printed word was stagnant and substantially down on its 2007 peak of £8.3 billion.

“It is an extraordinary testament to the appeal and resonance of digital entertainment services that they have helped home entertainment to hit this milestone nearly 550 years since the invention of the printing press,” said ERA CEO Kim Bayley.

2017 was a banner year for the entertainment industry with revenues reaching £7.24 billion, up 8.8 per cent on 2016. That 8.8 per cent growth rate exceeded that of virtually every sector monitored by the Leisure Industries Research Centre including Eating Out (up 7.7 per cent), Alcoholic Drink (up 6 per cent), Holidays Overseas (up 4.4 per cent) and Gambling (up 1 per cent). Total leisure spending was up 5.2 per cent.

“The 2008-2009 recession hurt both the entertainment and reading markets,” noted Dr Themis Kokolakakis from the Leisure Industries Research Centre. “Since 2012, the entertainment market has recovered very strongly producing record 2017 results. Traditional media is under pressure, partly because of the growth of streaming services, partly because there is so much competition for people’s time and attention. Entertainment has grown while reading has stagnated.”

“The success of the UK entertainment market is ultimately the result of collaboration between the creatives, studios and labels who produce compelling content and the retailers and services who bring it to the public,” added Bayley.

Elsewhere in the ERA Yearbook, figures show the dramatic change in the make-up of the entertainment business. Five years ago, more than 80 per cent of revenues were generated by buy-to-own formats such as discs or downloads. In 2017 56 per cent of revenues came from so-called access models like music and video streaming, electronic movie rental or subscriptions to online multiplayer games, paying for digital micro-transactions and making in-app purchases on mobile devices.

“The success of the entertainment business is a testament to the power of innovation, creating new ways for people to enjoy the music, video and games they love,” declared Bayley.

While the Yearbook tracks the continuing growth in digital, two physical formats showed notable growth:

  • Boxed software for consoles such as the new Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 which generated their first growth in 10 years – up 5 per cent to £750 million;
  • Vinyl albums which continued their long-term revival with sales up 34 per cent to reach £87.7 million.

“Digital services may be grabbing the headlines, but physical retailers continue to identify new opportunities to showcase and drive sales of discs,” advised Bayley. “Vinyl is a prime example of retailers nurturing demand for a product most people had long written off. It would be foolish to underestimate the consumers continuing affection for physical product.”

The ERA Yearbook also includes the 2017 ERA Entertainment Chart, combining data on both digital and physical sales of music, video and games.

It reveals that Ed Sheeran’s album Divide was the best-selling music, video or games title in the UK in 2017, achieving sales of 2,702,839 albums.

In 2017 33 music, video or games titles sold over half a million units. Of these, 10 sold over 1 million units and three over 2 million. Of the Top 40 biggest sellers, seven were music albums, 10 were videogames and 23 were videos, led by a trio of titles from Walt Disney Studios – Beauty & The BeastRogue One – A Star Wars Story and Moana.

“We all knew that Divide was huge, but now we can see it was more than twice as big as Moana and more than three times the success of Trolls, observed Bayley. “Many congratulations to Ed and all the people who helped make it such a success.”


ERA Entertainment Chart 2017
Position Category Title Artist Company Units sold
1 Albums Divide Ed Sheeran Warner Music 2,702,839
2 Videogames FIFA 18 Electronic Arts 2,696,721
3 Videogames Call Of Duty: WWII Activision Blizzard 2,442,416
4 Video Beauty And The Beast (2017) Walt Disney Studios 1,484,565
5 Video Rogue One – A Star Wars Story Walt Disney Studios 1,380,402
6 Video Moana Walt Disney Studios 1,293,787
7 Video Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Walt Disney Studios 1,279,850
8 Videogames Grand Theft Auto V Take 2 1,080,022
9 Video Bridget Jones’s Baby Universal Pictures 1,052,753
10 Albums Human Rag’n’Bone Man Sony Music 1,001,913
24 Video Wonder Woman Warner Home Video 591,316
25 Videogames Tom Clancey’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands UBISOFT 574,889
26 Albums Now That’s What I Call Music 96 Various Artists Sony Music/Universal Music 560,286
27 Video Spider-Man – Homecoming Sony Pictures 551,227
28 Video Pirates Of The Caribbean – Salazars Walt Disney Studios 538,735
29 Video The Girl On The Train 20th Century Fox HE 525,996
30 Video La La Land Elevation Sales 525,342
31 Albums The Thrill Of It All Sam Smith Universal Music 501,952
32 Video The Boss Baby 20th Century Fox HE 501,453
33 Video Fast & Furious 8 Universal Pictures 500,617
34 Video The Lego Batman Movie Warner Home Video 494,446
35 Videogames Gran Turismo: Sport Sony Computer Ent. 484,933
36 Albums Glory Days Little Mix Sony Music 468,173
37 Video Fifty Shades Darker Universal Pictures 466,119
38 Video Hacksaw Ridge Elevation Sales 465,138
39 Videogames Horizon Zero Dawn Sony Computer Ent. 456,374
40 Video War For The Planet Of The Apes 20th Century Fox HE 435,440


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