Consumers spent a record $21.2 billion renting and buying DVDs in 2004, according to a report by the Digital Entertainment Group unveiled yesterday (Jan. 6) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Veg

Consumers spent a record $21.2 billion renting and buying DVDs in 2004, according to a report by the Digital Entertainment Group unveiled yesterday (Jan. 6) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In 2003, consumers spent $16.1 billion on DVD.

Total home-video spending, including VHS sales and rentals, was $24.5 billion last year, up 9% from 2003.

Retail DVD sales reached $15.5 billion, a 33% increase over 2003. Rental spending on DVDs totaled $5.7 billion, up from $4.5 billion in 2003.

More than 1.5 billion software units shipped in 2004, the DEG reported, bringin total shipments since 1997 to more than 3.9 billion discs. Software figures were compiled by Kaplan, Swicker and Simha on behalf of the DEG.

In the fourth quarter, about 530 million DVDs shipped to retail, a 39% increase over last year's fourth quarter.

On the hardware side, the DEG announced that more than 37 million DVD players were sold in the United States last year, a 10% increase over 2003. The hardware figures, which were compiled by the Consumer Electronics Assn., also revealed that more than 127 million DVD players have been sold since the product launched in 1997.

DVD player sales also set a record in fourth-quarter 2004. More than 17 million players were sold during the quarter, a slight increase over the 16.9 million players sold in the same period of 2003.

The DEG said that the total number of DVD households is now 70 million, and that about 45% of DVD owners have more than one player. The group projects that more than 80% of U.S. households will have at least one DVD player by the end of this year.