EST Movie Sales Jump 68% in Q1: NPD Group

Thanks in part to the market entry of Comcast and other digital retail outlets, electronic sell-through movie transactions grew 68% in the first quarter of 2014, with EST sales accounting for 10% of all physical and digital movie purchases, The NPD Group said in a report issued this week.

The NPD Group noted that sales of TV shows and movies via EST channels surged past the $1 billion mark in 2013, and represented almost 14% of all physical and digital home video purchases during the year.

As can be seen in the chart above, EST sales of TV shows dominate movies in both units and dollar volume.

NPD Group said the EST market is getting a boost as new MVPDs and digital retailers join the market and obtain rights to sell titles prior to their DVD/Blu-ray sales windows.

In addition to Comcast and Verizon Communications, others competing in the heated EST market include Apple iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, Google Play, Target Ticket, M-GO, as well as Xbox Video and the Sony PlayStation Store .

“Much of the growth in EST is being driven by new digital buyers being drawn into the market,” said Mark Kirstein, president of entertainment for The NPD Group, in a statement, noting that most of the 11 million EST consumers are purchasing digital transactions in addition to physical DVDs and Blu-ray discs, while only a small percentage exclusively purchase digital.

“Comcast joined Verizon as the second major MVPD to offer EST and we expect more to join the EST market moving forward,” he added.  “EST will become an important complement to Video-on-Demand, TV Everywhere, and traditional pay TV services, as it drives incremental revenue and contributes to subscriber retention.”

Comcast announced last week that first-week sales of The Lego Movie via the Xfinity Digital Store set a new record, unseating Despicable Me 2.

Comcast launched an EST offering last November that lets customers purchase and play movies and TV shows on the Web and via the set-top. In addition to allowing playback on set-tops and browsers, Comcast has also introduced apps for iOS and Android devices that enable playback of purchased titles. Verizon Communications launched a similar product, originally called Flex View, in 2010.