Video games remain UK’s top entertainment category, but Netflix and Disney+ help video streaming catch up fast

Video games were the biggest-selling UK home entertainment category last year, though video streaming is rapidly catching up and music sales reached their highest in two decades.

Helped by growth in video and games streaming, and the renaissance of vinyl records, UK entertainment sales have grown nearly 40% since 2019, reaching £11.1bn in 2022.

A total of £4.66bn was spent during the year on digital games, across traditional physical discs, console and PC downloads, mobile and tablet games and other subscription and token-based games, with growth of 2.3% on the prior year.

Games accounted for 42.1% of the total, according to digital entertainment and retail association ERA, with console downloads the fastest element, up 12.2% to £724.7mln, mobile and tablet games up 3.2% to £1.5bn and other digital sales up 0.2% to £1.75bn.

The biggest-selling console game was FIFA 23, made by Electronic Arts Inc, which sold 2.39mln units across digital and physical formats in the final instalment of the game.

UK video games makers include Team17 Group PLC, Frontier Developments PLC (AIM:FDEV) and tinyBuild Inc (LSE:TBLD), while Keywords Studios PLC is a leading provider of services to the industry.

Video revenues grew 14.4% to £4.4bn, driven mainly by online streaming services from the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Now TV, ITV PLC (LSE:ITV)’s itvx and Britbox, which grew by 17.6% to £3.85bn.

Some people are still buying DVDs, with sales of £117.2mln, down 22% on 2021.

‘Top Gun – Maverick’ was the biggest-selling film title, selling 1.1mln copies, of which more than 800,000 were electronically or downloaded, followed by ‘Spiderman – No Way Home’.

Music grew 3% to just under £2bn, with streaming via the likes of Spotify, YouTube, Apple, Deezer and Soundcloud driving the highest level of sales since 2003 and nearly double the level of their low point in 2013.

Subscription streaming revenues made up £1.7mln of the total, up 5%, and physical sales fell 4% to £280.4mln, though sales of vinyl records continued to grow.

Physical music sales were levelling out, the ERA said, as higher-priced vinyl growth of 11% was offset by CD sales falling 17%.

Vinyl album sales of £150.5mln outsold CD album sales for the first time since 1987.

The biggest-selling album was Harry Styles’ ‘Harry’s House’, while the biggest-selling/streaming single was his ‘As It Was’.

ERA chief executive Kim Bayley said: “We are approaching a watershed. Thanks to the investment and ingenuity of streaming services on the one hand and to the physical retailers who have driven the vinyl revival on the other, music is within sight of exceeding £2bn in retail sales value for the first time in more than two decades.”

On games, Bayley said the category “remains the often-unheralded leader of the entertainment market” as growth is lower than that of video or music, “but its scale is enormous and in terms of innovation and excitement it continues to set the pace for the entire entertainment sector”.


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