Why Digital Downloads are Beating Physical Media

March 8, 2017 - By 
Digital Downloads

What do CDs, DVDs, and software disks have in common?

They’re currently being crushed by digital downloads, but they’re not the only types of physical media feeling the heat from the digital media takeover.

E-books are back on the rise and are expected to represent 25% of the global book market by 2018, and educational textbook giant, McGraw-Hill, recently noted a major spike in sales and customer satisfaction for their digital products.

The video game industry is also feeling the impact, as physical sales dropped by 45% and digital sales skyrocketed by 180% in just seven years.

So what does the future hold for digital and physical media?

Keep reading as we explore the latest studies, stats, and forecasts to learn more about the rise of digital downloads.

Reports: Film & TV Digital Downloads Surpass DVD Sales

It finally happened.

At the start of 2017, major media outlets in the UK reported that film and TV digital downloads sales finally beat physical DVDs.

Digital movie downloads have been on the rise since 2009, but they finally surpassed their predecessors in 2015.

This UK trend is in keeping with digital movie sales trends seen in the USA. Reports show that film and TV rentals dropped by 18% and physical sales decreased by 10% from the previous year. Meanwhile, sales for digital downloads skyrocketed by 23% and are showing no signs of slowing down.

The digital download phenomenon is hitting Hollywood so hard, according to the L.A. times, that Warner Bros. studio execs are even considering upping the digital download release dates for feature films.

Consumers are sending a clear message, so let’s unravel why people are so quick to embrace digital.

Survey Says: Why People Prefer Digital Media over Physical Media

As if sales alone weren’t proof enough of consumers’ preference for digital downloads, take a look at this U.S. consumer survey reported by Variety Magazine.

At the time of the survey, consumers reported the following viewing habits:

  • Video streaming activity officially surpassed live TV viewing by 2015.
  • More than 55% of consumers reported streaming movies every month.
  • 53% reported streaming TV shows on a monthly basis.
  • Compare these percentages with the 43% who still prefer watching live TV programming.
  • 14-25-year-olds prefer internet video services by 72% percent as opposed to the 58% who pay for cable TV.
  • In fact, 25% of millennials canceled their cable TV service in favor of a digital downloads service.

It’s undeniable that consumers’ film and TV viewing habits show a preference for digital over traditional media, but why?

It is just the convenience of enjoying content at the click of a button or is it something more?

We set out to find out why.

Survey: U.S. Adults Ditch Movie Theatres For The Living Room

Maybe there is something more to digital downloads than just avoiding a trip to the video store.

According to a 2014 Harris Poll, two-thirds of U.S. adults said their movie theater attendance has significantly declined over the past few years, and 68% of adults only go to the movies once a year at best.

These additional survey insights also shed light on why consumers may prefer an at-home movie experience:

  • 57% of participants polled said they prefer watching movies at home as opposed to going to a movie theater.
  • Only 21% of adults prefer seeing feature films at a movie theater.
  • 58% reported that the sound and quality of a particular film was their reasoning for choosing a movie theater over an at-home experience.
  • 62% surveyed said that high prices for concessions are the worst part about going to the movies.
  • 56% reported that rude or loud moviegoers also ruin their experience at movie theaters.

With the high costs of movie tickets, food, and disruptive moviegoers, it’s no surprise people are opting to stay on the couch.

How Digital Downloads Impact Music Consumption

Nothing proves the power of digital downloads more than its impact on the music industry, and we have the stats to prove it.

An annual Music Consumer Insights Report show the following results:

  • 71% of all internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 access licensed music online.
  • At least 1/3 of all consumers between the ages of 16-24 currently pay for a digital music service.
  • 82% of younger consumers between the ages of 13 and 15 regularly listen to and pay for audio digital downloads.
  • Almost half of all internet users pay for digital music, regardless of the format.

What’s even more clear is the overwhelming impact of smartphones on the digital music industry, as you can see direct correlations between increasing mobile device use and the shift toward digital music consumption.

How Mobile Changed Everything

Smartphones are quickly surpassing desktop computers and laptops as consumers’ primary source for digital music consumption.

In their report, the IFPI found that 55% of all active internet users use their smartphones to listen to digital music. You will also find a 40% to 52% disparity between consumers who use their computers to listen to paid music services as opposed to smartphones.

As smartphones continue their upward climb in the market, expect these digital music consumption stats to follow suit.

So where do digital downloads go from here?

According to TechCrunch, look out for the following trends in digital media:

  • Advancement in live video media
  • Innovations in Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Increasing popularity in digital “eSports” and “eAthletes”
  • Continued dominance of video game downloads
  • More innovation in digital wearables

The future is digital and it’s only going to get better.

Soon your DVDs and Blu-Ray disks will join the nostalgic ranks of cassette tapes, VHS, and vinyl records, but the possibilities are endless with digital media.

Expect more digital re-mastered movies, eBook releases, and digital music offerings to win consumers over in coming years.

Take this opportunity to start building your digital downloads library so you can start carrying your favorite music, movies, and publications wherever you go.

Posted In:  Digital Downloads