US consumers spent $4.45 billion on home video entertainment in the first quarter of 2012, according to figures just released by Digital Entertainment Group. That's an upswing of 2.5 percent over the same period last year, with digital streaming services and Blu-ray coming away as the big winners this quarter. Purchases of the high-definition optical media jumped 23 percent to $541 million in Q1, and Blu-ray continued to enter new homes with 2.4 million players sold. That's some healthy growth to be sure, but BD remains a long way from toppling DVD as America's physical format of choice: the latter managed to take in $1.51 billion even after a seven-percent dip in sales.
The numbers aren't quite so kind to the rental market, unfortunately: physical media rentals plummeted by 25 percent to $1.18 billion during the quarter. That shouldn't come as much of a shock when you factor in Blockbuster's continuing woes and the migration of Netflix subscribers to digital streaming. Streaming services are clearly on an upward trend, with digital downloads and video-on-demand content seeing a 74 percent rise in sales and totaling $1.22 billion — though how DGE reaches this figure isn't clear. Still, it's not all doom and gloom in rental land, as Redbox brought in $523 million, which represents growth of 30 percent compared to 2011 and accounts for nearly half of the entire segment. It would seem those studio-imposed delays haven't had poised much of a financial burden after all.