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UK entertainment sales driven to new highs by lockdown streaming

Locked down Britain turned to digital music, video and games in record numbers in 2020, increasing entertainment revenues by 16.8% to a record £9.05bn, according to preliminary data compiled by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).   

It was the fastest growth rate since records began, driven above all by digital services, who saw revenues increase by £1.4bn over 2019 to a new high of £7.8bn. 

Digital video services spearheaded by Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video increased revenues by a remarkable 37.7% over 2019 while growing music streaming subscriptions saw recorded music revenues score their best result since 2006.

Gaming comfortably retained its lead as the largest of the three sectors, generating sales of more than £4bn for the first time.

Overall more than 80 pence in the pound spent on entertainment now goes to digital services rather than physical formats. Amid generally declining physical formats, vinyl LPs remain the shining exception, increasing sales by 13.3%. 

ERA CEO Kim Bayley said, “If there was ever a year in which we needed entertainment, it was 2020. The trend towards an increasingly digital entertainment market may be long established, but no one could have foreseen this dramatic leap as digital services filled the gap left by shuttered cinemas, concert halls and retail stores. With much of the country shut down, ERA’s members provided a welcome revenue stream for thousands of musicians, actors, directors and countless backroom staff.”