Sales of movies online increased 47 percent from a year earlier to $1.19 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group, which tracks home entertainment sales. Far more was spent on subscription streaming and video on demand, but online movie sales, which the industry refers to as electronic sell-through, had the biggest year-over-year increase.
Part of the reason for the boost is that many titles are now available for sale online for weeks before they are released on DVD or for online rental, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"We've seen a fundamental shift in consumer behavior based on that early digital availability," Ron Sanders, president of Warner Bros., told the Journal.
Pricing also played a role, according to the Los Angeles Times. It reported that Fox dropped the wholesale price for its digital HD movies, which let online storefronts offer titles at a lower price than Blu-ray discs.
Online sales still make up a small portion of total home entertainment spending, which totaled more than $18 billion in 2013, according to the DEG.