Nomura analyst Michael Nathanson doesn’t buy the spin from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group this week that the clouds are beginning to part for the home video business. The industry group said that spending only fell 2.1% last year — the smallest decline since 2008 — due in part to a 20% increase in spending on Blu-ray discs. ”The industry’s performance clearly stabilized,” DEG said. But Nathanson says in a report this morning that the figures are misleading because they include subscription payments for digital streaming from companies such as Netflix and Hulu Plus. They “are not directly tied to the distinct purchase of one title,” Nathanson says. “Why didn’t prior DEG reports include HBO and Showtime revenues? Consumers are subscribing to these networks for similar content.” But when you take the subscription numbers out, ”the industry’s health looks a little more sickly at -6.6% vs the -2.1% reported,” Nathanson says. “Using this approach, we maintain a view that consumer demand for physical and digital home entertainment titles is still, unfortunately, in secular decline.” The bottom line? Nathanson predicts that U.S. consumers will spend $16.3B on home entertainment this year, -4%, and $15.5B in 2013, -5%.
The years-long decline of home video sales appears finally to have stabilized, the trade organization Digital Entertainment Group reports. While filmed home entertainment dipped 2% for the year in 2011, there were genuine positive signs. Annual spending on Blu-ray discs rose 20% last year, hitting $2 billion for the first time, the DEG says. Additionally, nearly 40 million homes now have Blu-ray playback devices, 38% more than in 2010. The decline in home video revenues has leveled off, with consumer spending on filmed home entertainment rising 1% for the second half of the year. The third-quarter spending actually rose 5%, the first quarterly increase since 2008. Additionally, electronic sell-through was up 9% for the year, and spending on video-on-demand was up 7%. Consumers also continued to embrace HDTV, purchasing 27 million HD sets during 2011. HDTV penetration is now at more than 74.5 million U.S. households.