Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody Image copyright Fox
Image caption Rami Malek won an Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody’s success at the box office in 2018 was replicated in the living room last year.

The Freddie Mercury biopic was the biggest home video of 2019, selling 1.7 million copies in the UK.

Two-thirds of those copies were on DVD or Blu-Ray, with the rest coming from downloads.

Overall, UK consumer spending on video grew by 9.5%, making it the fastest-growing entertainment sector, fuelled by the popularity of streaming.

Data compiled by the ERA (Entertainment Retailers Association) shows that physical video sales – which include DVDs, Blu-rays and 4K UHD – decreased from £616.9m in 2018 to £477.2m last year, a drop of 22.6%.

By contrast, digital video grew by 21.5% to £2.11bn in 2019, fuelled in part by increased take-up of services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

“There is no doubt retailers of physical product had a tough time in 2019,” said the Entertainment Retailers Association’s CEO Kim Bayley.

UK Consumer Spending on Video

According to BASE (British Association for Screen Entertainment), “the digital revolution… is increasingly permeating the choices consumers are making for owned media”.

Yet the organisation – previously known as the British Video Association (BVA) – says the physical disc is “still the preferred choice for many fans, collectors and gifters”.

The greatest decline in the video sector is found in the physical rental of discs, which fell by almost 25% in 2019.

Yet this part of the market still generated £23.4m last year, despite firms like Blockbuster vanishing from the high street over the last decade.

Bohemian Rhapsody shifted almost 400,000 more units last year than its nearest competitor Avengers: Endgame, which sold just over 1.3 million copies.

Image copyright Disney/Marvel
Image caption Avengers: Endgame became the highest-grossing film of all time in 2019

Other titles in 2019’s Top 10 of best-selling videos in the UK include Toy Story 4, Mary Poppins Returns and the Lady Gaga remake of A Star is Born.

“Video’s digital renaissance is remarkable, but it is undeniable that physical formats are the key to scoring a blockbuster hit,” said ERA CEO Bayley.

“Every one of the year’s Top 10 biggest hits sold more on DVD and Blu-ray than they did digitally.”

The data released on Friday follows confirmation on Wednesday that music consumption grew in 2019 for the fifth year in a row.

Figures released by trade body the BPI show the music industry is now dominated by streaming, with sales of physical CDs continuing to decline.

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