Pandemic binge-watching drives UK entertainment spend to record levels

The Crown

UK spending on films, music and gaming increased to a record high last year, driven by increased demand for streaming during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Retail entertainment spend increased 18 per cent to a record £9.3bn in 2020, marking the eight successive year of growth in the sector and the fastest growth rate ever recorded.

The final figure was £210m higher than previous estimates published in January by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

The strong performance for home entertainment came as the overall leisure sector, which includes activities such as hobbies, eating out and holidays abroad, shrunk almost 30 per cent due to the pandemic.

The figures showed that while in-home leisure spending rose 2.3 per cent last year to £77.7bn, away from home expenditure plunged 39 per cent to £154bn.

Within entertainment, gaming remains the biggest single sub-sector, accounting for 48 per cent of total sales.

Sales of video consoles also posted positive growth last year, boosted by the eagerly-awaited release of the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series.

The fastest growing digital sector in 2020 was video, where sales rose 38 per cent to £2.9bn. This was driven by the growth of subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus.

Physical sales of music and video continued their steady decline, as consumer demand for DVDs, Blu-rays and CDs wanes.

Bucking the trend were fashionable vinyl LPs, which enjoyed their 12th successive year of growth to reach £110m in sales.

“The entertainment market was already growing without coronavirus, but with much of the leisure sector shuttered due to lockdown, music, video and games were in the right place at the right time,” said ERA chief executive Kim Bayley.