nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Consumer digital media remains vulnerable to disk failure

Average Number of Media Storage Locations

Consumers continue to grow personal digital media libraries of movies, photos, songs and home videos; exchanging physical disks and prints for digital bits and bytes. Unfortunately, much of that content remains vulnerable to a single disk failure.

In the nScreenMedia report Store My Stuff, it is made clear that consumer libraries of songs, movies, photos and home videos are exploding. Among the 59% of broadband users that already own downloaded movies and TV shows, the median number of titles owned is already 55. Over the next year, that number is expected to increase 17%.

This corresponds with trends seen by the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG.) In Q1 of 2014, DEG reported that physical disk sales fell 13.2% over the same quarter in 2013. On the other hand, electronic sales of movies increase 43% in Q1.

Consumers are not backing up these movies once they download them. The average number of storage locations for each movie title is just 1.1. 58% of consumer owned digital movies and shows are stored on a physical hard disk within the home (either a home PC or an external hard drive attached to the PC.) That means most consumer movie libraries are just one hard disk crash away from oblivion.

The reluctance to backup movies is perhaps understandable. These are very large files, typically 1-2 GBytes in size. Transferring them to another device would likely try the patience of most. Transferring them to a cloud service like iCloud or Dropbox for many is just not viable. For example, copying a 1 GByte file over a 1.5 mbps link (a typical upload speed for broadband connections in the US) would take almost 2 hours, and preclude doing just about anything else on the link in the meantime.

However, consumers aren’t backing up song files either. 76% of US broadband consumers indicate they have downloaded music, yet the average number of storage locations for each is just a little better than for movies, at 1.4.

Home movies are also very vulnerable to disk failure. 59% of broadband users indicate they use a computer hard drive or external hard drive to store their files. On average, the home movies appear on just 1.2 devices.

The only consumer owned digital media that appears to be backed up on a regular basis, is photos. 93% of US broadband users say they have at least some digital photos, and 85% say they store their photos on the computer hard drive or external hard drive. Each photo, on average, appears on 1.9 devices.

Ownership in the cloud looks like the best hope for solving this backup problem for consumers. Companies like Apple and Amazon are already keeping copies of much of the media consumers purchase through their stores in the cloud. However, we still have a long way to go before movies are commonly backed up there. Just 11% say they use the cloud to store their owned movies and TV shows.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, you can download the free report Store My Stuff – Consumer Digital Media Storage.

Why it matters

Consumers are beginning to move away from physical ownership of movies and other media, toward digital.

Most people download their media to a computer and never transfer it to another device.

That means media libraries are vulnerable to disk failure, despite the best efforts of cloud storage providers like Amazon and Apple.

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