The great rewind: What would it take to revive the British movie rental industry?
April 23rd, 2024, Bhavika Bansal

The great rewind: What would it take to revive the British movie rental industry?

Led by cost concerns and low usage, 31% of Britons have cancelled at least one streaming service in the past year, with two-fifths (39%) likely to do so within the next 12 months.

Despite the flame of movie rentals being kept alive by Britain's last few surviving rental stores and loyal cinephiles, the adverse impact of cheap DVDs, torrents and streaming services is undeniable. However, does the recent churn in streaming subscriptions signal better days for the industry?

A new YouGov Surveys: Self-Serve poll of 1,000 British adults explores the British movie rental market in this climate where streaming is still dominant but showing some decline.

Britons haven’t been big on physical movie rentals – but can be swayed with the right incentives.

The market for physical movie rentals (DVDs and Blu-rays) may not be a thriving one, but it's not dead just yet. Three key findings emerge from this new research:

  • Less than a tenth of Britons say they have rented a physical copy of a movie in the past year (i.e. since April 2023)
  • Access to exclusive or obscure titles is most likely to motivate Britons to rent physical copies of movies more frequently over the next 12 months.
  • A quarter of Britons (25%) would be interested in physical movie rental if they were offered perks or benefits including rewards programs, discounts, exclusive content or more.

How can Britons be motivated to rent physical copies of movies more frequently?

This part of the analysis sheds light on the factors that are most likely to motivate consumers who are interested in renting DVDs and Blu-rays to do so more frequently in the next 12 months.

Availability of movie titles that are inaccessible or hard to find on streaming services is one of the top factors likely to influence more frequent movie rentals amongst this group of respondents (53%) followed by special discounts or promotions (43%).

More than a third of Britons interested in physical movie rentals say they are likely to be motivated by easier access to services like kiosks and rental stores (35%) and the desire to support local businesses (34%).

Roughly an eighth of this group of respondents says they can be influenced to rent physical copies of movies more frequently on account of participation in movie-themed events or gatherings (13%).

How many Britons would actually be interested in renting if physical movie rentals offered additional benefits?

Though a large proportion of Britons say they would not be interested in renting a DVD or Blu-ray even if they had access to additional benefits other than the movie itself, a substantial share of ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ interested consumers still emerges (25%). 

Interestingly, 18-to-34-year-olds and 35-54-year-olds are twice as likely as Britons aged 55 and above to be potentially interested in physical movie rental (31% and 32% vs. 16%).

While dampening consumer enthusiasm for online streaming over the past year doesn’t necessarily mean a revival of the physical movie rental industry, there’s still considerable interest in the physical rental experience, particularly if it comes with the right incentives.

Explore our living data – for free

Discover more media content here

Want to run your own research? Run a survey now

Make smarter business decisions with better intelligence. Understand exactly what your audience is thinking by leveraging our panel of 26 million+ members. Speak with us today

Methodology: YouGov polled 1,000 British adults online between April 17 and April 18, 2024. The survey was carried out through YouGov Surveys: Self-serve. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, region, and social grade.  Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Self-serve.