More movies will be streamed this year than DVDs or Blu-rays bought, according to a new report. As Netflix, Lovefilm and now Sky's Now TV step up online streaming, could 2012 mark the end of the physical disc?
Bloomberg reports that streaming will overtake physical discs this year in the US, increasing to 3.4bn titles watched online, up from 1.4bn last year and dwarfing the 2.4bn DVDs and Blu-rays predicted to sell this year.
In February, UK film fancier Lovefilm streamed more movies than it sent out DVDs, Blu-rays and games combined. That's the first time that's happened, and is no doubt partly fuelled by the arrival of Lovefilm apps on smart TVs and the rather swish iPad streaming app.
That doesn't mean that discs are in decline. Lovefilm is posting 25 per cent more movies and games than at this time last year. But streaming has exploded, increasing fourfold from this time in 2011. Lovefilm now has two million users in the UK.
Meanwhile, the folks at Sky told us: "Consumers have never had more ways to watch films, whether that's the cinema, buying or renting DVDs, subscribing to pay TV services or downloading or steaming over the Internet. Such choice makes watching films even easier and gives consumers more reasons to watch movies, which is good news for both consumers and the movies industry more generally.
"Competition also drives innovation, which helps explain Sky's commitment to HD, 3D and making our films available on demand through our set-top boxes and other connected devices such as PCs, tablets and games consoles."
But they would say that, because the broadcaster is currently under investigation by industry watchdogs over its grip on new movies. Introducing streaming to that debate has given Sky the opportunity to announce Now TV, a cut-price online version of Sky Movies that will help Murdoch's mob argue their stranglehold on new releases is not an untenable monopoly.
We asked Netflix for comment, but they're all still in bed.
The arrival of Netflix and Now TV should shake up the movie streaming market. We've long lamented the lack of choice available online, but 2012 could be the year when we can finally watch whatever we want.
If you'd like to start streaming movies or are an online old hand, check out our head-to-head comparison of Netflix vs Lovefilm to see which movie streaming service is best.
Have you switched to streaming for your filmic fix or do you still like to slam in a disc on movie night? Where do you get your films, and why? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.