Wii boosts UK games sales, music resilient

LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - British retailers sold a record combined number of DVDs, games and music in 2008 despite the economic gloom, boosted by the popularity of Nintendo's 7974.OS Wii and single downloads, trade bodies said on Wednesday.

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) said its members sold more DVDs, games and music combined than ever before, up 4 percent on 2007 to a total of 485.8 million units.

The fastest-growing sector was computer games which posted a 17 percent rise in unit sales to 82.8 million, led by the popularity of Nintendo’s Wii platform.

DVD sales grew 1.9 percent to 252.9 million units while high-definition Blu-ray formats, which offer a sharper picture quality, jumped 358 percent to 3.7 million.

Music, which has been hit hard in recent years due to Internet piracy and the move from physical sales to online, was surprisingly strong, boosted by a 33 percent rise in the sale of singles, according to the ERA. The growth in the singles market was largely down to the strong sales of music downloads.

The BPI, which represents the British recorded music business, also released 2008 sales figures showing that the strong release schedule and expanding digital retail sector had helped the music market exceed expectations.

It said a strong release schedule for the fourth quarter from such bands as The Killers, Girls Aloud, and Take That, meant that the UK albums market performed better year-on-year for that period in 2008, up by 0.9 percent.

For the year, the albums market fell a smaller-than-expected 3.2 percent, with the fall in physical albums partially offset by the 65 percent rise in digital albums sold. That gave the digital format a 7.7 percent share of the album market.

The top album sellers in 2008, according to the BPI figures, were soul singer Duffy with Rockferry, ahead of Take That's The Circus. Both acts are signed to Universal Music, the world's biggest music company owned by Vivendi VIV.PA.

“Every business and consumer in the UK is having a tough time, and these difficult trading conditions make the resilience of the UK’s music market all the more notable,” BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said in a statement.


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