More than 50% of consumers 12+ rent or buy digital movies, TV

More than half of all U.S. consumers aged 12 and above bought or rented movies or TV shows digitally in the past six months, a new report says.

And, said Nielsen’s Home Entertainment Trends Report, consumers say that more of their digital viewing time is happening with subscription video services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Consumers say 19% of their total viewing hours over the past week were spent on digital content, including 10% on subscription streaming movies, 4% on TV/movies owned digitally, 4% on cable video on demand and 1% on movies rented digitally online for a one-time fee.

Comparatively, consumers reported spending only 11% of their entertainment hours on physical content. The remaining viewing hours were spent on activities, such as watching live and time-shifted TV, playing video games or watching movies in theatres.

Surprisingly, expenditures on physical media – buying or renting DVDs – are about twice as high as on digital media, with some groups, notably males under the age of 35, spending heavily on physical rentals and purchases.

But the tide running toward free and SVOD TV content looks to be accelerating, Nielsen said, as consumers on the whole indicated a rising preference in both over going to the movie theater or even watching movies in general, which is more bad news for theaters and studios.

Nielsen’s 2014 Moviegoing Report, showed that although 77% of U.S. moviegoers saw at least one movie in a theater last year – similar to movie attendance in 2013 — their frequency of going has declined slightly to 7.3 films in 2014 from 7.7 films in theaters in 2013.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn