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Data: Lockdown drives UK ent sales to £9bn

January 8, 2021

Locked-down Britain turned to digital music, video and games in record numbers in 2020, increasing entertainment revenues by 16.8 per cent to a record £9.05 billion (€10.05bn), according to preliminary data compiled by trade body the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

It was the fastest growth rate since records began, driven above all by digital services, who saw revenues increase by £1.4 billion over 2019 to a new high of £7.8 billion.

Digital video services spearheaded by Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video increased revenues by a remarkable 37.7 per cent over 2019 while growing music streaming subscriptions saw recorded music revenues score their best result since 2006. Gaming comfortably retained its lead as the largest of the three sectors, generating sales of more than £4 billion for the first time.

Overall, more than 80 pence in the pound spent on entertainment now goes to digital services rather than physical formats. Amid generally declining physical formats, vinyl LPs remain the shining exception, increasing sales by 13.3 per cent.

“If there was ever a year in which we needed entertainment, it was 2020,” stated ERA CEO Kim Bayley. “The trend towards an increasingly digital entertainment market may be long established, but no one could have foreseen this dramatic leap as digital services filled the gap left by shuttered cinemas, concert halls and retail stores. With much of the country shut down, ERA’s members provided a welcome revenue stream for thousands of musicians, actors, directors and countless backroom staff.”

  2019 2020  per cent change
Music Physical £318.1 £271.6 -14.6 per cent
Downloads £89.7 £72.2 -19.5 per cent
Streaming £1,045.8 £1,208.2 15.5 per cent
Total Music £1,453.7 £1,552.0 6.8 per cent
Video Physical Retail £477.2 £355.7 -25.5 per cent
Physical Rental £23.4 £16.9 -27.6 per cent
Digital £2,110.0 £2,906.4 37.7 per cent
Total Video £2,610.6 £3,279.1 25.6 per cent
Games Physical £572.3 £598.5 4.6 per cent
Digital £3,115.4 £3,622.2 16.3 per cent
Total Games £3,687.7 £4,220.7 14.5 per cent
Total Entertainment Physical £1,391.0 £1,242.7 -10.7 per cent
Digital (inc streaming) £6,360.9 £7,809.0 22.8 per cent
  Total Entertainment £7,751.9 £9,051.8 16.8 per cent


Music: Physical / Digital – The Official Charts Company. Streaming (subscription only) estimates ERA / BPI

Video: Physical – The Official Charts Company / BASE. Digital – Futuresource Consulting estimates of transactional digital video including EST (Electronic Sell-Through) Movies & TV, iVoD (online digital rental) and Pay-TV VoD (digital rental via Pay-TV providers to a STB). Adult & PPV sports are excluded. SVoD (Subscription video on demand): Online subscription streaming services such as Netflix and an allocation of Amazon Prime revenue. No PVoD.

Games: Physical – GSD Data provided by ISFE. Digital – Omdia estimates (including digital online, mobile and tablet gaming).

Video streaming and downloads up nearly 40 per cent

The digital video market grew by 37.7 per cent in 2020 to £2.9 billion as viewers flocked to services from the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Sky’s Now TV and Apple TV+.

While the figure includes digital rental and downloads, more than 80 per cent of the total was taken by streaming services.

In contrast, with lockdown leading to the closure of many stores, sales of physical video formats such as DVD and Blu-ray were down a quarter to £355.7m.

While no industry data is available on the most streamed movies and TV shows, the number one best-selling video over combined physical and download formats was Disney’s Frozen 2 with sales of 972,996 units.

Best Selling Films on Video 2020
Title Unit sales
1 Frozen 2 972,996
2 Joker 827,680
3 Star Wars IX – The Rise Of Skywalker 770,491
4 Downton Abbey – The Movie 684,688
5 1917 649,957
6 Jumanji – The Next Level 562,123
7 Bad Boys For Life 395,119
8 Sonic The Hedgehog 377,454
9 Onward 376,653
10 Terminator – Dark Fate 340,403

Source: Official Charts Company

Games market exceeds
£4 billion for the first time

Games overtook video to become the UK’s biggest entertainment sector as long ago as 2013 when sales reached £2.3 billion. In 2020 revenues were £4.2 billion, a leap of 14.5 per cent on 2019, and the first time it has breached the £4 billion threshold.

The largest single segment is the digital games business which ranges from mobile and streamed games to downloads. It grew by 16.3 per cent to £3.6 billion in 2020, driven by increasing numbers of gamers buying direct to console games, digital subscriptions and downloadable content meaning it was worth more than the entire video market and twice as much as the music market.

Physical games enjoyed a return to growth in 2020 with revenues up 4.6 per cent to £598.5m. Increased game purchasing during lockdown as well as new gaming consoles in November are driving this growth.

The biggest selling game was FIFA 21 with sales of 2.18 million units.

Best-selling Games 2020
Chart Position Title Total Unit Sales
1 FIFA 21 2,182,694
2 Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War 1,420,353
3 Grand Theft Auto V 1,127,222
4 FIFA 20 903,810
5 Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 897,350
6 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* 810,462
7 Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 665,815
8 The Last Of Us Part II 539,247
9 NBA 2K20 481,507
10 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege 436,957

Source: GSD Data provided by ISFE.  Digital sales weeks 1-52 2020. *No digital data provided

Music scores best result since 2006

The music market grew by 6.8 per cent in 2020 to £1.55 billion, its highest total since 2006. Again most of the growth was driven by streaming services including Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Deezer and YouTube Music. Streaming revenues grew by 15.5 per cent to £1.21 billion, more than the entire music market was worth as recently as 2016.

Lockdown listening did not benefit sales of downloads, however, with revenues down 19.5 per cent to £72.2 million. Also down were CD sales, hit by the closure of physical stores during lockdown with revenues of £156.2 million, 28 per cent less than 2019.

In contrast vinyl continued its strong revival with sales up 13.3 per cent to £110 million. Vinyl now accounts for more than 40 per cent of the physical music market.

Most popular album of the year was Lewis Capaldi’s Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent which generated a total of 455,914 sales.

Most Popular Albums 2020
Title Artist Equivalent sales
1 Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent Lewis Capaldi 455,914
2 Fine Line Harry Styles 293,435
3 Future Nostalgia Dua Lipa 265,042
4 When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go Billie Eilish 239,879
5 Heavy Is The Head Stormzy 222,791
6 Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon Pop Smoke 222,052
7 No 6 Collaborations Project Ed Sheeran 217,939
8 Greatest Hits Queen 193,495
9 The Greatest Showman Motion Picture Cast Recording 190,864
10 Diamonds Elton John 189,752



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