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Film industry suffers as digital downloads decline

Nick Spence | March 2, 2010
US$1.5bn industry will now be lucky to break the $1bn barrier

LONDON, 1 MARCH 2010 - The numbers that legally download feature films online, including from Apple's iTunes Store, are declining a new report claims.

Despite growth in 2007 and 2008 in digital film downloads, growth in 2009 was well below expectations, a new report by Screen Digest of US film revenues has found.

"The market just cooled off," said Arash Amel, a research director with Screen Digest told the Financial Times. "This wasn't caused by economic factors . . . the level of interest in digital downloads just isn't there."

Amel suggests part of the decline is down to competing platforms offering content that is not compatible with each other and can't be easily copied. "Digital downloading is characterised by its restrictions - it's all about what viewers can't do, rather than what they can do," Amel said.

The Screen Digest research director suggests industry estimates that the business would exceed $1.5bn by 2014, are now more realistically pegged at less than $1bn.

As a result, the FT notes that Screen Digest has slashed its growth forecasts for digital film sales by 30 per cent after the smaller than expected rise in 2009.


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