Sales of movie download, streaming and on-demand have all become more popular. While Millennials now stream movies more than they rent DVDs, price remains the most important factor.

“Intangible” movie formats are catching up traditional DVD sales

While DVD rentals are still the most popular way that consumers rent movies, digital formats are becoming more popular. About one-third of online customers rent discs, according to research from marketing intelligence firm Mintel, but digital movie sales have quadrupled. From 2007 to 2012, digital downloads, subscription streaming and pay TV sales rose from $1.3 billion to $5.5 billion, and the numbers are expected to increase tenfold in the ten year span from 2007 to 2017. Instant access to media is a powerful incentive for adoption of on-demand movies. According to Billy Hulkower, senior technology analyst at Mintel, "Increased acceptance of all intangible media, including music, photos, books and games is a driver with consumers increasingly acclimated to the immediacy of all digital formats."

Movie streaming services becoming popular across age groups…

While this immediacy may speed up consumers’ acceptance of digital entertainment, early adopters are becoming more mature in their habits. Streaming movies is more popular for 18 to 24 year olds - over half of Millennials have rented movies or television shows in the last 30 days in this way. In the general population, 31 percent have watched streaming video. Both of these groups are more active within a streaming service (such as Netflix or Amazon Instant Video) - 55 percent of 18-24 year olds and 38 percent of all respondents. Since streaming video is now more popular for Millennials than renting physical discs, their viewing habits will affect video publishing and distribution in profound ways.

… But price still maters more than format

One way that these new habits manifest is in related behaviors: digital movie consumers buy more movies regardless of format. They are more likely to purchase any type of physical movie, the most important factor being price. No matter the format, the most common response at one-third is “they will buy either format depending on which is cheaper.” However, Apple’s iTunes store is more popular for digital movie sales than Amazon is - 60 percent of respondents purchased from iTunes, and only 25 percent did so from Amazon.

By Ivory King