European DVD sales propel expansion of format

Paul Boughton

Nearly 174 million DVDs were sold in the fourth quarter of 2004, a 40percent increase over the same period in 2003, bringing the total number of DVDs sold in 2004 to nearly 454million, according to figures compiled by GfK on behalf of the DVD Entertainment Group Europe (DEGE).

Throughout 2004, the individual European DVD markets all experienced substantial DVD software sales growth. Hardware penetration across Europe has almost reached 54percent across most Western European countries, apart from Italy which has now reached 34.3percent penetration and Germany which is has a current household hardware penetration of 51percent, indicating a buoyant market for future title sales.

Philippe Cardon, President of the DEGE and Executive Vice President and General Manager of Warner Home Video Europe said: "Increasingly, we will see music, historical and educational DVDs playing a greater role in the format's success in Western Europe where maturing markets such as UK, France and Germany are seeking to explore different genres. Purchasing of DVDs is also spreading across a much wider range of demographic profiles as the format matures, with females and older ages contributing more to DVD sales than in the past. This is also supported by the type of DVDs they are purchasing and we are seeing continued growth of TV programming on DVDs. This genre experienced a year-on-year growth in terms of value of +34percent versus a year-on-year film growth of +18percent -- across UK, Germany, France, Spain and Benelux.

Countries such as Italy, Sweden and Austria, will continue to focus on the availability of new releases in their countries such as films where there is still a huge growth potential."

DVD sales in the UK continued to soar ahead with 42percent growth last year as household DVD player penetration is estimated to have passed the 60percent mark, while a decline of 41percent for VHS sales means that the overall video market's growth has slowed from the high double-digit numbers of previous years. Nevertheless, 16 titles sold over a million copies in 2004 compared with nine titles in 2003. 53 million DVDs were sold in December 2004 alone, up 10percent on sales the same time 2003.
Survey highlights included:

  • Italy led the Western European countries by increasing DVD sales by a massive 121percent with the last quarter of 2004 showing an increase of 166percent on sales in Q4 2003.
  • French DVD sales increased by 61.4percent compared to the whole of last year; there was a 61percent increase on sales in Q4 2004 compared with Q4 2003.
  • Germany grew 62percent on sales from 2003; the last quarter in 2004 showed an increase of 40.6percent compared with Q4 2003.
  • Spanish sales grew by 49 per cent; growing 29percent in Q4 2004.
  • The UK had a steady growth rate with a 34percent increase on Q4 2003 and a year-on-year overall growth rate of 42percent.
  • Over 22 million UK homes have DVD players, meaning household penetration is now 67percent. Spain follows closely with an installed base of 8.7million, a 60percent penetration.
  • France and the Netherlands are at 59.8percent and 56.9percent household penetration respectively.
  • Growing markets such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic are all demonstrating steady growth.

The DVD Entertainment Group Europe is a pan-industry body that has been formed to promote the DVD format.