Downloads haven’t killed off physical media sales just yet

Digital downloads, streaming services and e-books may have taken a fair chunk away from physical sales but they haven’t killed off the traditional market just yet. According to eBay’s ‘Guide to Physical Media’, the value of physical purchases of music, TV shows, films, computer games and books in the UK is as high as £3.8 billion.

In particular, UK gamers are keen to get their hands on a physical copy of their games. The findings, based on a survey of over 2,000 shoppers, revealed that some 48 per cent of game buyers want to own a hard copy. In total 31 per cent of Brits play a video game every month and 29 per cent of shoppers have bought a physical disk or cartridge within the last year. That number leaps to 51 per cent for those aged between 18 and 24 with around 2.9 million active purchases in the younger age group. And there is a keen interest even among the older generations, with 20 per cent of those aged over 75 owning a physical video game.

Rob Hattrel, vice president of eBay UK, said: “Shoppers old and young are coming back to video games, despite the many digital alternatives, and driving the £776 million gamers market in the UK. Our Guide to Physical Media delves into what’s behind the 22 million searches for video games on our marketplace over the last year – a number that is set to rise as people shop for video games for their Christmas stocking fillers.”

But it is not just the gaming market that is seeing strong demand for physical copies. In terms of books, 59 per cent of UK consumers purchased a hard copy in the last year, while 40 per cent bought a DVD/ Blue-ray disk and 39 per cent bought a CD.

Steve Oliver, Chief Executive Officer at, has seen strong sales in physical CDs and DVDs over the past year. He said: “At musicMagpie, our business has grown so much over the past ten years that we now handle more than 100,000 CDs and DVDs daily, demonstrating that there is still a real appetite for physical media. Even in music, a market transformed by the emergence of digital downloads and streaming, there are signs of resurgence in physical media’s popularity. BPI figures show that sales of vinyl topped three million in 2016, the highest UK total in 25 years. Just because the streaming market has grown, it’s not necessarily true that digital is a substitution to physical.

"When it comes to eBay specifically, we were the first company in the world to pass five million in positive feedback. When we first launched on eBay, it sent sales soaring and the platform has given us access to customers around the world. We have customers as far afield as Japan who have chosen to give us positive feedback. For us, that is a massive vote of confidence in our store as well as our fantastic team in the UK. The world of physical media isn’t disappearing like many have predicted; it’s adapting, as all markets do over time. musicMagpie is a business that has been built on the buying and reselling of books, DVDs, CDs, and our ongoing success means we can confidently predict the physical media market isn’t going anywhere any time soon, as eBay’s report rightly demonstrates.”

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