Download sales up but can't usurp discs

CDs and DVDs cling on
Life in the old dogs yet

During 2012, we spent more than £1 billion on digital downloads of music, video and games meaning that digital formats now make up a quarter of the entertainment market.

Spending on digital files was up 11.4 per cent last year, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association's (ERA) estimations, with physical sales dropping 17.6 per cent over the Olympic year.

This may not come as a surprise to anyone who invested in a smartphone or tablet in 2012, and populated it with music, films and games for listening, watching and playing on the move.

Game changers

The gaming community has most readily embraced the digital format, with over half of digital sales going on video games, from MMO's like World of Warcraft, to social games on Facebook and console downloads.

Although films and videos are the least popular of the downloadables, they were up 20 per cent in 2012, with music, the most mature, also up 15 per cent.

It's not all sunshine and lollipops for denizens of digital downloads though - despite the increases in the intangible sales, physical formats (CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays etc) still account for 75 per cent of entertainment sales - and the whole market contracted by 12 per cent over the course of the year anyway.

The stats are by no means pin-point accurate though, as they're cobbled together from the Official Charts Company, the GfK Chart-Tracker and the IHS Screen Digest's informed estimates - what's more, they don't account for other digital services like streaming options (Netflix, Lovefilm, Spotify, We7).

Despite this, two things seem sure: 1. Downloads are on the up and 2. rumours of the death of physical media have been greatly exegerrated.

As the ERA's director general Kim Bayley puts it, CDs, DVDs and gaming discs show "incredible resilience".

"It is nearly nine years since iTunes launched in the UK yet over 60% of music sales are still accounted for by physical formats. It is clearly way too soon to write off the CD and in video, digital barely gets a look in."

No word on whether or not these stats take the hipster market into account - the stats breakdown sadly didn't outline VHS, Laserdisc, vinyl and NES game sales.

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.