Growth in 2012 generated by Asia-Pacific region but North Americans remains by far the biggest spenders on films at about $80 per capita per year, according to a new report from IHS Screen Digest.

Worldwide consumer spending on films increased by $1.3 billion in 2012 following tepid growth a year earlier.

Total worldwide consumer spending on motion pictures in 2012 reached $62.4 billion, up from $61.1 billion in 2011 and $60.1 billion in 2010. Last year’s rate of increase amounted to 2.1%, demonstrably better than the 0.9% growth experienced in 2011.

According to the report, which polled 37 countries, growth for consumer spending on movies worldwide is recovering after declines across 2008 and 2009, with spending forecast to continue to rise by 2% to 3% every year from 2013 to 2016.

“Consumers were tracked on their movie spending and consumption across 37 countries in five different global regions via four delivery platforms,” said Tania Loeffler, analyst for video at IHS Screen Digest. “These platforms include theaters; the purchase and rental of physical disks on DVD and Blu-ray; pay-TV video-on-demand (VOD); and digital retail buys and rentals.”

Regional spend

Growth in 2012 was generated by the Asia-Pacific region, which commanded a 25% share of worldwide movie spending, the third-largest after North America and Western Europe. The boom was in part due to new cinema construction in markets such as China and the popularity of higher-priced premium content.

North Americans remained by far the biggest spenders on movies at about $80 per capita per year, and accounting for 41% of worldwide movie spending in 2012.

Consumer spending on movies increased significantly in other regions - by 17% in Central and Eastern Europe, and by 7% in Latin America. Ultimately, however, these markets still remain very small, with only an 8% combined share of worldwide spending in 2012.

Theatrical up, DVD down

Theatrical is the key driver of consumer spending growth worldwide, found the survey. Worldwide consumer spending on theatrical grew 7% from 2011 to reach $33.4bn in 2012. The higher premium on 3D tickets will have played a part in this.

In contrast to theatrical, consumption and consumer spending on movies - either purchased or rented on physical discs - declined again, from $24.4bn in 2011 to $23.7bn in 2012, a decline of 3%.

The worldwide decline is forecast to continue for both DVD and Blu-ray purchases and rentals, with rentals projected to overtake physical purchase as the second-largest generator of worldwide consumer spending on movies.

“Unlike theatrical, physical media is subject to competition on price, inherent to retail in all environments,” Loeffler said.

Physical vs digital

Average pricing for physical purchase transactions has continuously fallen, declining by a further 2% between 2011 and 2012.

Physical media is forecast to lose a 10% share of total worldwide consumer spending, from 39% in 2012 to 29% by 2016. Even so, physical will still account for a combined 31% of total worldwide movie transactions by 2016.

The preference for physical rental among consumers is translating into the digital space, details the report.

On the whole, TV-based Video-on-Demand (VOD) and digital rentals from over-the-top services such as Apple’s iTunes vastly outpaced the number of digital movies purchased in 2012. Pay-TV VOD transactions rose 16% in 2012 to reach 685 million in number, while digital rentals grew 61% to reach 174 million. In comparison, digital purchase transactions climbed to just 52 million.

Total consumer spending on buying and renting movies on digital platforms continued to see strong growth, climbing to $4.9bn in 2012.

However, total digital movie spending accounts for just 7% share of worldwide movie expenditures.