With all the doom and gloom surrounding DVD retail these days, it’s nice to get some good news every now and then. According to information recently released by the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), Blu-ray disc sales rose 66.3% in the third quarter of this year and Blu-ray rentals are up 44.5%. The increase in Blu-ray disc sales contrasts with an overall 13.9% decline in packaged media sellthrough in the same time period compared to 2008. In addition, Blu-ray sellthrough is up 83% for the year to date.
High-definition discs now account for an average of 12% of packaged media sales for theatrical new releases, with a few titles such as X-men Origins: Wolverine and Watchmen reaching more than 30%. DEG chairman and president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Bob Chapek said the following about such films’ allure to high-def fans:
“Titles that appeal to the early adopter demographic continue to perform increasingly well on Blu-ray, representing upwards of 20% of all physical media sales. . . As the penetration of Blu-ray increases, we are beginning to see the same kind of response by mainstream audiences that we are seeing in early adopters.”
Despite all the good news, time is running out for high-definition discs to achieve true mainstream acceptance. With ever-increasing bandwidth capabilities and consumer movie download alternatives, Blu-ray’s window of opportunity is fleeting. The format needs to achieve even more massive sales growth in the crucial fourth quarter if it’s to remain relevant.
According to research by consumer shopping site Retrevo, awareness and price remain two of Blu-ray’s biggest obstacles. According to Venture Beat‘s analysis of Retrevo’s survey:
“About 49 percent of consumers say they’ve never seen a Blu-ray movie. Another 18 percent say they’ve seen one but were not very impressed. While younger consumers like Blu-ray, about 62 percent of seniors[*] believe that regular DVDs are all they need.”
Additionally, although Blu-ray player prices have dropped more than 35% in the past year, many players remain priced above $200. A generous portion (34%) of Retrevo’s respondents indicated that $150 is the most they would be willing to pay for a Blu-ray disc player.
As the holiday shopping season approaches, Insiders, will Blu-ray hardware and discs be on your lists? Let us know in the comments.
*My grandparents were obviously not among the group consulted, as their twenty-year-old VCR is still defiantly flashing “12:00” and they believe DVD is a brand of men’s underwear.