Gaming is revitalizing the UK entertainment industry

Image: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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After a decade of decline and sluggish growth, the UK entertainment industry is making a comeback.

Gaming and other digital media services like Spotify and Netflix helped make 2015 the best year ever for entertainment sales in the UK, with £6.1 billon ($8.9 billion) in revenue for year, the Entertainment Retailers Association trade group said Wednesday (Jan. 6).

The industry peaked in 2004 with £6.04 billon in sales and then declined steadily for the remainder of the 2000s, bottoming out at £5.2 billion in 2012, before gradually rebounding, the trade group said.

Last year, however, increases in digital media outpaced declines in other areas like physical sales, boosting overall revenues by a solid 5%, compared with 2% growth the previous year.

Video games, which have long been a bright spot in UK entertainment sales, got a lift in 2015 from online and mobile gaming. Gaming brought in £2.8 billion, or nearly half of the industry’s revenue for the year. Electronic Arts’ FIFA 16—released in September—accounted for £2.5 million in sales, making it the second highest-grossing entertainment title in the region.

The top entertainment honor, of course, went to Adele, whose album 25 brought in £2.6 million in the UK during the last six weeks of 2015.

Overall, music and video sales perked up in the region thanks to streaming platforms. Revenue from on-demand music services like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Deezer rose nearly 50% in 2015 to £251 million, pushing sales in the broader music category up by 3.5%. Meanwhile, video revenues from platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime surpassed £1 billion for the first time ever this year, boosting the video category by 1.5%.

Physical sales declined on all fronts.