1Q US home video spending up 2.5 percent

LOS ANGELES (AP) - American spending on home videos rose 2.5 percent to $4.45 billion in the first quarter as the increasing popularity of subscription streaming plans and Blu-ray discs made up for falling DVD sales, according to the latest industry report.

That marks the first year-over-year gain in two quarters, according to figures released by the Digital Entertainment Group, which is made up of Hollywood studios and electronics manufacturers.

Blu-ray disc purchases rose 23 percent to about $541 million, while DVD sales fell about 7 percent to $1.51 billion.

Spending on physical rentals fell 25 percent to $1.18 billion as people dropped off Netflix Inc.’s mail-order DVD plan and fewer people went to brick-and-mortar rental outfits. Spending at kiosks like Redbox rose 30 percent, making up nearly half of the entire physical rental category at $523 million.

Spending on digital downloads, subscription streaming services and video-on-demand offerings rose 74 percent to $1.22 billion.

About 2.4 million Blu-ray players were sold in the quarter, bringing up the number of homes that can play the high-definition discs to 40.8 million.

Studios have been trying to spur consumers’ intent to own movies, rather than rent them, because sales are more profitable. The report also showed some progress in that battle, as purchase spending rose 4 percent to $2.22 billion, while rental spending rose less than 1 percent to $2.23 billion.

The number of people who have opened an account with UltraViolet, a fledgling system that allows people to stream certain movies that they have purchased on disc, rose to nearly 2 million since its introduction in October.

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