The value of U.K. home entertainment was up 13.3 percent in 2021 to a £3.7 billion high, led by No Time to Die and Wonder Woman 1984, according to the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE).
The James Bond film No Time to Die was the biggest selling title of the year across all retail, with 1.148 million retail sales.
There were 17.7 million digital transactions on EST in 2021, led by No Time to Die. There were over 27 million VOD transactions in the first nine months of 2021 alone, with Wonder Woman 1984 leading the pack as the number one VOD title.
David Sidebottom, principal analyst for entertainment at Futuresource Consulting, said: “2021 has no doubt been one of the most challenging on record for the U.K. home-video sector, but continued consumer thirst for transactional content in 2021 was evident despite a more limited slate, with iVOD library sales growing year-on-year once more. The sector remains incredibly robust heading into 2022, with transactional digital video sales set to bounce back, potentially to record levels, boosted by a plethora of new movie releases.”
The growth of SVOD slowed but steadied in 2021, with year-on-year gains of 28 percent, down from the 44 percent spike in 2020. Sixteen million of the 27 million total U.K. households had at least one SVOD account by the fall, with the average number of subscriptions per household holding at 2020 levels with 2.3 services per household.
PVOD and PEST saw 48 films released directly to consumers across 2021, adding more than 10 percent to digital transactional consumer spend in 2021. Netflix remained the largest U.K. subscription service, followed by Amazon Prime, Disney+, NOW and Apple TV, while Peacock content became available to Sky subscribers in the U.K. The growing number of FAST services such as Pluto TV, Roku and IMDb TV is poised to add even more content choice to U.K. consumers in 2022, alongside the expected local launch of the Paramount+ SVOD platform.
There were over 21 million DVD and Blu-ray sales across the year. Premium formats have been embraced by home entertainment audiences again in 2021, with the top-selling 4K UHD titles delivering the best viewing experience outside of cinema. No Time to Die broke records for the format, selling 38,600 discs on 4K UHD in its first week alone.
Kevin Dersley, co-vice chair of BASE and managing director of Elevation Sales, said: “The physical market faced a challenging year, but the strength of catalog, TV and the continued consumer discovery of the premium home entertainment experience of 4K UHD and Blu-ray, served those consumers who bought over 21 million discs in 2021. With the reopening of cinemas, consumers will now be able to find and enjoy their favorite new releases in stores again as well. For avid film fans and everyday high-street shoppers alike there is an ongoing and important role for DVDs and Blu-rays to play in what promises to be an exciting year of releases in 2022.”
The popularity of TV titles continued across 2021. Game of Thrones Complete 8th Season, Supernatural: The Complete 15th Season, Star Trek Picard: Season One and The Crown: Season Four and Season Three boxsets collectively sold 189,000 units, while the combined sales of Doctor Who, Doctor Who Classic and the newest season of Doctor Who sold over 282,000 units.
Lesley Johnson, co-vice chair of BASE and director of home entertainment for the U.K. and EMEA at BBC Studios, said: “Buying and owning TV titles clearly continues to appeal to U.K. audiences, with the demonstrable success of both new-to-own titles and classic shows in 2021. The accessibility of TV boxsets is great news for the 50 percent of viewers who admit they binge-watch most or all of their entertainment shows. In these times of national crisis, we’ve seen audiences turning to the shows they love as a sort of visual comfort food.”
Early forecasts suggest that 2022 may be the biggest year on record for home entertainment. Liz Bales, chief executive of BASE, said: “Throughout this pandemic, entertainment at home was the refuge that many chose to take from an uncertain world, and it became clearer than perhaps ever before: audiences are the life-blood that fuels our industry. Serving audiences the content they love is driving a new, innovative world of home entertainment. Last year, faced with challenge, our industry was forced to adapt, but now, because of those changes, 2022 may be the biggest and best year for home entertainment ever.”