Everybody Panic: DVD Sales Down For The First Time Ever

DVD sales slipped for the first time since the format was introduced in 1997, says USAToday.

Consumers spent $16 billion buying DVDs, about $600 million less than in 2006. But rentals matched last year’s total of $7.5 billion.Hollywood shipped 1.7 billion discs — about 30 million more than in 2006 — a sign that DVD remains strong, Smith says. “There is a natural progression to lower price points due to the maturing market,” she says. “But there are still titles — big blockbuster releases, collector sets and, mostly, TV DVD compilations — that are generating high price points.”

The average selling price of a DVD dropped 0.5% to $14.63.

Despite the downturn in DVD sales, the $23.7 billion total spending on home video dwarfs Hollywood’s $9.6 billion box-office total for 2007.

Could this mean that the market has absorbed all the $170 Miami Vice Complete Series boxsets it can handle? The horror.

DVD feels first sting of slipping sales [USAToday]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Goya says:

    Looks to me like people are still sitting out the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD battle. Whats the point in spending more money on a format if its becoming obsolete, but no clear successor has been annointed? I’m sure if they settle this little industry spat, that we’ll see a rise in sales again.

  2. Aphex242 says:

    …it couldn’t possibly be because cinema, in general, has sucked lately? Or maybe the pointless format war consumers have been sitting out of waiting for a victor?

    Interesting statistics, however.

  3. warf0x0r says:

    The only DVDs I buy anymore are really really good movies

    i.e. Children of Men
    or box sets of good shows like The Wire and BSG…

    but yes @aphex242: The quality is way down imho.

  4. Televiper says:

    Probably just a fact that after 10 years most heavy buyers are satisfied with the size of their DVD collections. Also, it seems that DVDs are almost cheaper than CDs.

  5. RocktheDebit says:

    @aphex242: … or that the ad hoc DVD boycott in support of the writers’ strike is actually working? Or that everyone already re-bought their VHS favorites in DVD format before 2007?

  6. endless says:

    @aphex242: maybe this is why warner decided to go blu ray only?


    mmmmm the wire, cant wait for next weeks episode.

  7. sled_dog says:

    TELEVIPER is right. Once we have all the “old” titles we want, total sales will go down.

    That’s why we need a new format! As J says in Men in Black, “I guess this means I’ll have to buy the White Album … again.”

  8. LionelEHutz says:

    Quick — blame the internet

  9. magdelane says:

    “Oh, I’ll just Netflix it.”
    Ta da!

  10. Manok says:

    redbox for the win. I only buy dvds of movies that are worth watching multiple times, which isn’t many.

  11. UNDERSTAR says:

    2 words – DOUBLE DIPPING!

  12. Nothing Can Kill the Grimace... says:

    I’m personally just waiting for the whole HD-DVD/Blu-Ray thing to work itself out, and until then only buy a regular DVD if it’s something I can’t live without. I know a lot of people that are doing the same thing.

  13. Craig says:

    Let’s see, what other reasons could possibly explain this?

    – Tivo
    – Waiting for the new standard to emerge
    – The huge online used DVD market
    – The rise of online content
    – Not that much good stuff released on DVD last year
    – Blah blah blah

  14. Re: this whole “waiting the hddvd/bluray thing out”

    Why? I own an HDDVD player and it’s great! Upscales normal DVDs, rocks the HD discs and I really hope the format loses so I can rape some 75% off sales.

    This is not, as everyone enjoys comparing, vhs vs beta. In the long run, we’ll have players that play both formats along with whatever god forsaken format they come up with next. It’s not like having beta tapes that won’t physically fit into vhs sized players.

    If you buy HDDVD and it loses, there will be a huge sale, then a short time when you can’t watch new HD, then cheap bluray drives or dual format sub $100 will come out.

    This whole “waiting it out” thing with $100-$200 players out there seems silly… especially after spending thousand(s) on a beautiful tv.

  15. cmdr.sass says:

    I haven’t purchased a DVD since NetFlix, and I never will again. Owning this stuff is a waste of money unless you watch the same movies over and over again.

  16. trollkiller says:

    So they shipped more but made less. Sounds to me like the dropping price of DVDs is where most of the “shortage” is coming from. I would like to see how many units were sold last year compared to this year.

  17. XTC46 says:

    its obviously piracy…

    I bought fewer DVDs this year than last year, I also pirated significantly less. The reason? fewer good movies.

  18. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Of course the MPAA will blame piracy as the reason for low DVD sales. And will pull magic numbers out of it’s ass to back-up the claims.

    But I think everyone here got it right..

    – Nothing worth buying at the moment. In the past 3+ years, Hollywood has churned out nothing but remakes of old films, and other mediocre crap.

    – People are getting sick of movies being re-released every 2 years in special limited edition box sets. Now with 5 extra minutes of unreleased scenes! And bonus commentary from the lunch delivery guy!

    – The popularity of Netflix and even the local non-commercial DVD rental shops.

    – The HD format wars. I think uninformed consumers are afraid to buy any more DVD’s for fear it will become obsolete overnight. Honestly, I think DVD’s will take a very very long time to go away. And not everyone is going to rush out and buy an HDTV set anyways. The DVD format ain’t going anywhere.

    – And did I mention, there’s nothing worth buying at the moment? ;-)

  19. a says:

    I would be interested to see some graph of how much of each year’s revenue is derived from NEW releases.

    I generally don’t buy movies or DVD series the minute they come out. If it’s something I know I like and want to keep around, THEN I plop down the price of a semi-nice dinner.

    What I mean is — I don’t think it has to do with “nothing good being made these days.” The good stuff that was made in the old days is still there, waiting to be bought!

  20. ktoth04 says:

    Honestly, its the Blu-ray/HD-DVD battle, and has nothing to do with disposable income or piracy -_-

  21. a says:

    Also, @LatherRinseRepeat: The fact that movies are being rereleased and annoying people only affects the ratio of production money spent to fanboy consumers lapping it up.

    It has nothing to do with people buying something they just didn’t happen to have until this point.

    Not to say that I don’t agree with you that the 2nd co-director’s edit of movies is getting tiresome.

  22. randombob says:


    Well I think the point is (and I can say this is so because I’m doing it) that people are not buying DVD’s because they’re waiting on the sidelines to figure out who wins the role of DVD successor. I figure the next-gen is here, we just have to figure out which one it is (I just bought BD a week ago, actually!), and put as many titles into that format as possible.

    Why would I want to buy a title on DVD when I can have it in HD on the current format? A lot of people are probably figuring the same. I haven’t bought a new DVD in 2 years, waiting for the HD wars to be over.

  23. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    I’m waiting on the sidelines myself. My friend ended up purchasing a BD/HD-DVD combo player and loves it. I myself bought an UPscaling DVD player.

    I have a blockbuster online account and get 3 at a time/unlimited in store returns (grandfathered in). So when I want to watch a movie I just run to blockbuster and rent it with my return envelope and another movie is sent.

    I do purchase DVD’s but I purchase alot of them used. Blockbuster sells them anywhere from 2 to 4 for $20. I just swap out the DVD cases and all is well. To me this tactic, along with waiting for them to drop in price for new DVD’s is more lucritive. Most DVD’s I only want to watch once. The rest I either buy new for a low price or used.

    I say rofl on the piracy edge being used. Go blame used DVD sales for your lack of new sales.

  24. Sam says:

    I know I’m not buying as many DVDs as I used to, largely because I realized that I’m not interested in collecting movies that will (more likely than not) end up gathering dust on a shelf. I don’t have time to watch the DVDs I already own, let alone the contents of some of these monster sets being released now.

  25. Colin says:

    Who buys DVDs anymore? I stopped years ago when I realized I’d watch them once or twice before I shelved them for all eternity.

    TiVo, Unbox, and Netflix are all anyone needs these days.

  26. stephenjames716 says:

    once an HD format has been decided I will start buying dvd’s again. Oh wait…I have netflix…nevermind.

  27. Electroqueen says:

    In 2007, I didn’t buy as many instore, but on eBay. Couple that with Library loans, and there you go. Doctor Who 2005 series 1 AND 2 woot! Shrek 3, screw going on line both ways.

  28. bohemian says:

    There are very few worth buying. We only buy DVDs if the movie is one were sure we want in our collection and would watch it repeatedly. But even then we usually buy it used at Hollywood Video or Disc Go Round so it doesn’t count as a DVD sale for their purposes.

    We watch most of our movies on cable movie channels or on demand rather than buying them. I could care less about the new format wars. We will keep our DVDs and maybe add a new player when one becomes the standard and it gets hard to find regular DVDs.

  29. zibby says:

    Looks like Paramount will drop HD-DVD support. If that happens, war over and we can all start buying our OMG CAPITALIST CRAP again. Too bad, I just won an HD-DVD player but I was going to get a PS3 eventually.

    Source: Financial Times

  30. cerbie says:

    $14.63 average? No wonder I mostly buy used or bargain bin. I almost couldn’t manage to pay full retail for my last new DVD.

    @LaurenKitsune: you want transparent accounting…from an industry whose profit is dependent on shifty tax-evasive accounting…not happening.

    The good stuff that was made in the old days is still there, waiting to be bought!

    Yup. I just picked up Killer Klowns From Outer Space not long ago. Absolutely amazing film (don’t stop at the 5.3 on IMDB, if you’ve never seen it)…made in ’88, released on DVD in ’01, got to me in ’07.
    Then again, does it count as another sale, since I bought it used?
    Anyway, wake up once the sky actually falls.

  31. MameDennis says:

    I agree with PPs, crappy movies and lower prices explain a great deal of this.

    Also, movie industry: Explain to me why consumers should put up with unskippable ads at the beginning of a DVD purchased at full price (NOT an ex-rental).

  32. barty says:

    If they’re talking about DVDs sold through traditional retail markets, no kidding. Perusing through the local Worst Buy a couple of weeks ago, you’d have to be an absolute idiot to buy a DVD at the prices they’re selling them at. I only bought one there because I had a gift card to burn, which is the ONLY way I’ll ever spend money in that store.

    If its above $15, I don’t buy it unless its a box set that includes at least two flicks. If I buy a *new* DVD, I’m usually perusing the $5-10 bin at WalMart or buying someplace online WITHOUT the huge retail markup. Its not that hard to find new releases online for $15 or less if you look around.

  33. ElizabethD says:

    Movies on demand (TV), Netflix, premium cable, and now Apple TV (which we have but haven’t activated yet) where we’ll be able to download movies directly from iTunes … Who needs all those boxes, anyway? Also, I am liking the $1/night movie-rental kiosks that have sprung up in our local Stop & Shop supermarkets. Great for spur-of-the-moment viewing.

    Just as I’ve pretty much eliminated buying books in favor of utilizing the statewide library loan system, I am trying not to buy DVDs… I asked myself, How many of these have we actually watched more than once? Aside from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, which the kids and I adore, pretty much none.

    I guess this makes us anti-consumerist. There goes the economy!

  34. catskyfire says:

    I only buy a DVD if it’s something I rank 5 stars. Pirates…Princess Diaries 1 (yes, really), Spider-man, Harry Potter. Stuff I will watch more than once or twice.

    Otherwise, it’s not really worth owning, to me. And those I do own are often used. It’s not like VHS where used meant the quality was crappy. A good used DVD is perfectly watchable repeatedly. Why spend 20 when you can wait a bit and spend 5 or 10?

    For me, though, I rarely need to see a movie more than once, and rarer still is the desire to see it twice. I might watch something I’ve seen if it is on TV, but I might not say “Darn, I really need to see the original Lssie or Robocop, and I wish I owned it.”

  35. theblackdog says:

    I notice my DVD buying has gone down since getting Netflix, but what I do buy I will watch over and over again.

    Plus as someone else said, I’m also sick of seeing re-releases of DVD titles every two years that have a few “extras” thrown in.

    I’m sure this year I’ll be selling off some more DVD’s.

  36. taka2k7 says:


    Ding ding. Cross between netflix, Tivo, saturated DVD collections and only watching movies once.

    I’ve got netflix, so I’ve only bought 2 DVDs in the past couple of years (Casino Royale and Serenity). What hold, that, I do buy kids movies, but those get watched over and over (no snide comments about my parently abilities please).

    With music you can have it playing in the background and do other stuff. Not so much with movies, though I do put on some classics and watch for 5 minutes, do something else, watch some more, etc.

  37. Dibbler says:

    DVD used to be around 12.99 on sale and normal price was 16.99. Now they sale price at 16.99 and normal price is 19.99 or more and no movie is worth $20 unless it’s the best god damn movie ever made and has 4 hours of deleted scenes and extras. Movie execs are following the footsteps of the music execs. And please, no one say it’s because we’re all waiting for blu-ray. I don’t by $20 movies so I’m sure as hell not planning on buying $30 movies just because I can see the actors nose hair better.

  38. zibby says:

    Oops. Now Paramount denying the report they will go to Blu-Ray. Stay tuned, I guess.

  39. savvy999 says:

    I can’t believe that the DVD buy market is $16B. That’s a lot of unwatched movies.

  40. Jamie Beckland says:

    Why is anyone building/maintaining a DVD collection?

    I am genuinely interested to know why anyone would want these physical things in their lives when TiVo/Unbox and Netflix exist.

    I mean, if you want to watch something more than once, put it at the top of your queue again.

    The one possible exception I could see is if you have young children that watch a particular movie dozens of times…but otherwise, even filmophiles can’t watch the same movie more than twice per year.

    By the time you amoritize the cost of the disc, a new format has emerged. I just don’t see how this makes sense.

    Would appreciate any insight.

  41. Starfury says:

    We’ve been buying fewer DVDs overall because there isn’t anything worth buying. Most of the movies that I’ve seen in the theater (not many) haven’t been good enough to spend any $$ on. Even the kids movies I saw with the kids rated “Dad, we won’t need to buy this when it comes out.” A lot of our old VHS movies we’ve already replaced years ago. I don’t buy TV on DVD because I found that it may get watched once (Firefly is an exception) and then the set is on a shelf looking pretty and gathering dust.

    As for the HD/Blu-Ray war: at this time it doesn’t affect me. I have standard TVs and Standard DVD players. There isn’t any real reason for me to upgrade to HD. I admit the picture is nicer, and a surround system would be nice but I don’t *need* it. Instead of dropping several thousand to upgrade my TVs I’m going spend many thousand to remodel my ancient kitchen.

  42. unklegwar says:

    I guess it couldn’t be
    (a) the BS tug of war over Blue Ray / HDDVD
    (b) the overwhelming pile or crap content available and corresponding shortage of quality content….could it?

    By the way, (b) applies to music sales as well.

  43. Dr_awesome says:

    I guess it could be the new format war or possibly the fact that there are fewer good films being produced, but the reason I’m not buying as many dvds this year is because I have less money to spend. It’s kind of hard to justify $15 on that special edition of reservoir dogs when the price for just about every neccesity in my life continues to increase at a rate I can barely keep up with.

  44. randombob says:


    I buy some for me collection. BUT, the caveat is that it has to be a movie I would watch again frequently,. I always rent or otherwise watch a film before I decide if it goes into the library. GOOD GOOD GOOD films I try to keep in my library, so that if we want to watch a movie on a whim, we have a good selection. And for those “on a whim” moments, nexflix & the like really don’t suffice. If I have a free night that comes up, say TODAY, netflix kinda sorta ain’t gettin’ me my movie. BUT, I have this movie, that movie, the other movie….

    Basically, I put things in my catalog that I think are not only 4-5 star flicks (according to me), but that are 4-5 star flicks AND are easily viewable and enjoyable multiple times.

    My library is only 80 big.

  45. themediatrix says:

    WAKE UP, people! This is shoddy reporting on the part of USA today (anyone surprised, btw?)

    The figures are attributed to “The Digital Entertainment Group.” A quick look at they DEG website shows who’s behind the group —

    “…in early 1997, the leading consumer electronics manufacturers, major movie studios and music companies came together to form the DVD Video Group – a nonprofit trade consortium dedicated to promoting DVD-Video.”

    Hmmm…what kind of motivation might a *trade* group have to report a decline in DVD sales? Perhaps the writers strike? In which the writers and (soon the directors) want a piece of the revenue of DVD sales. I call bullshit. There is clearly a conflict of interest here.

    Ben, I think you should amend the consumerist post to reflect that it’s a trade association with a vested interest claiming the sales are down, and not an objective party.

  46. warf0x0r says:

    @endless: HBO on demand is playing them a week early. It is bliss :)

  47. Kounji says:

    I’m one of the kind of dvd buyers who happen to buy a new movie like once every few months. DVD’s cost way too much for me even at 20 to 15 dollars a pop. I also only like to buy films that I find rewatchable and won’t buy a film I watch only once. As a result I have a very slim library of maybe 20 films since the format became standard

    However I think the dip in dvd sales is due to two reasons. Less disposable income and a wait- and see attitude from people waiting for the end of this format battle

  48. SacraBos says:

    @Goya: Paramount may be announcing dedication to BluRay, so that decision might be clearing up.

    We’ve bought less, and increasingly those we’ve bought have been used. There’s less I want to watch more than a couple of times, and more often than not, it’s Pixar/etc movies for the kids which get watched LOTS.

  49. hanoverfiste says:

    When I first heard that news, I thought it wasn’t my fault I don’t typically buy DVDs. Then a thought back, I’ve never purchased a new DVD retail…ever.

    I have bought a handful of previously viewed, and about 100 $1 DVD at Walmarts and Dollar stores.

    Typically have been a renter, first Blockbuster then Netflix. Now just ondemand from cable.

  50. SkyeBlue says:

    Even though the BOTH deteriorate over time I really prefer the VHS tapes over DVD’s. After even a few uses the DVD’s start “freezing” in spots. My VHS tapes seem to last forever.

  51. Trae says:

    Could it be that DVD sales had been previously artificially inflated by people repurchasing films that they had already bought in VHS form and the market has finally reached it’s natural saturation point?

    No… that would *make sense*… :P

  52. dvdchris says:

    @SkyeBlue: Do you have kids? I don’t experience any deterioration of DVD. There is no physical/playback reason why an *undamaged* correctly handled DVD would start manifesting playback problems after any number of plays. Sounds like a DVD handling or player issue.
    We have not yet had the format nearly long enough to know it’s long-term viability, as that would be measured in decades.

  53. dvdchris says:

    Stop the presses. DVD sales are down 3% in a one-year period. What? They actually sold 30 million more than the previous year? So the actual story should be ‘Retailers Slightly Lower Average Price Of DVDs.’
    And does this count the used market? I never buy new retail anymore. If it’s something I must have, I wait 2 weeks and buy it on Amazon used. Or wait 4 weeks and Blockbuster is selling it for $12.99.
    And after 10 years, virtually all movies I was interested in buying have been released with the exception of just a few.

  54. Sian says:

    I know I’m holding off on some movie purchases because I’m waiting for the HD format war to settle. The longer this stretches out, the more it’ll hurt the studios.

  55. parad0x360 says:

    As someone who owns over 600 dvd’s, about 25 hd-dvd’s and 6 blu-rays that i got for free with my PS3…let me tell you why sales are down!

    As someone who loves movies and will buy just about anything even if its not so good the reason I have stopped buying so many movies is because the quality of titles over the last 2 years has dropped so low its not worth wasting my hard earned money.

    it has nothing to do with a format war, or piracy. its all about quality and Hollywood currently doesnt have it.

  56. parad0x360 says:

    @SkyeBlue: uhm, if your movies are freezing after watching them its because you are making them dirty, your player is making them dirty, your player itself is crap and or dirty or you’re (no offense) stupid.

    DVD’s dont age like tapes. A dvd should last 20+ years if stored properly and the quality never degrades from repeated use so you make zero sense.

  57. newspapersaredead says:

    I can get almost any movie I want from my local library. So I therefore in 2007 I didn’t buy any DVD’s. Not planning on any purchases in 2008 either. I never understood buying movies to begin with. I will never be able to watch all the movies/TV series/sports events I want to watch, so why would I want to re-watch a movie/TV show over? Maybe when I’m retired and have nothing better to do I will start re-watching movies and shows I’ve already watched. I remember seeing articles talking about the next generation of DVD player before the original DVD format had taken over the VHS format. Why invest in library of movies when the format is obsolete even before it has penetrated the market? Didn’t make sense to me then, obviously some more people are starting to get the idea as well.

  58. naptownman says:

    Better start opening your wallets and buying again or Hollywood will be forced to outsource to Bollywood.

  59. Javert says:

    I too and waiting for the format war to end. At this time, the only thing I buy are TV shows. I love the time frame for watching while flying and I always have a TV show in the DVD player while gaming. I just don’t see the point of buying an eye candy type movie just to have to get it again in the uber next gen format.

  60. Javert says:

    Wow, nice typo…”I too am…” not “I too and…” My apologies folks.


  61. Jamie Beckland says:

    @randombob: How do you define frequent viewings? More than twice per year? I mean, do the numbers actually work, or is this a situation where you are paying for the convenience of owning the disc?

    If you want to watch something on a whim, there is still the physical video store, no?

    Is your average cost per use less than a video store?

    Thanks for illuminating me on your habits. I rarely watch a movie more than once, so it’s helpful to understand your mindset.