Online subscriptions are driving a turnaround in Hollywood's slumping home entertainment businesses.
The Digital Entertainment Group, a trade coalition of studios and consumer electronic companies, reports that U.S. consumers spent $4.5 billion on home entertainment in the first quarter this year, an increase of 2.5 percent from the same frame a year ago.
The figures, from the DEG website, include purchases and rentals of DVDs, Blu-ray discs and online, as well as subscriptions to services like Netflix.
Overall spending on those items declined by 2.1 percent in 2011, to $18 billion. That was the seventh consecutive year of decline, according to the DEG website.
Online subscriptions, such as Netflix, are a major factor in the rebound. Revenue grew five-fold in the quarter, to $548.6 million. Meanwhile, DVD subscription sales fell by $322.8 million in the quarter.
Other takeaways from the report:
>> Blu-ray disc sales surged by 23 percent. The February release of the blockbuster "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1" was cited by the group, as were holiday sales of Blu-ray players.
>> DVD sales continued to decline. Packaged good sales, which include both Blu-ray and DVDs, fell by 0.6 percent from a year earlier, to $2.1 billion.
>> Sales of film and TV shows increased by 0.5 percent to $165 million if sales via services including Apple's iTunes service are included.
>> UltraViolet, the studios' cloud-based “digital locker” service, was up to 2 million accounts in the quarter.