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Combo Packs — Right Idea, Needs Marketing

16 Jul, 2009 By: John Latchem

I love the idea of the combo pack when it comes to selling Blu-ray Discs. Studios put a copy of the DVD in with the Blu-ray. It’s so simple and I was amazed it took as long as it did for a studio to try it out.

Blu-ray launched in 2006, and the first notable combo pack, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, hit shelves in late 2008. Since then, several more movies have been released in combo packs, usually family-friendly fare. Earlier this year several combo pack releases such as Marley & Me and Bedtime Stories debuted with Blu-ray market shares (the percentage of a title’s sales on Blu-ray) hovering around 10% or less. I found that odd, since getting the Blu-ray also meant getting the DVD. I figured the market share number would have been much higher.

Then there’s Disney’s Bolt. The first week of release, Blu-ray accounted for 20% of total sales for the disc. Ordinarily this type of Blu-ray market share would be celebrated, but Disney changed things up for Bolt, offering the Blu-ray edition exclusively the Sunday before its March 24 wide release. And since the weekly sales data cuts off after Sunday, Bolt’s first-week BD share should have been 100% (I suspect either the data is wrong, or most retailers put the DVD version out early). The next week, with the DVD available, Bolt dropped to 13%.

Have the studios been as effective as they could be marketing the combo-pack concept? I don’t know, but the numbers suggest maybe not.

Maybe it’s just me, but I see the prospect of future-proofing my video collection as a bargain. If the Blu-ray has the DVD too, why not snap it up? Of course I would probably want to see every title released as a combo pack. It just cuts down on the confusion. And the studios love to put out different configurations. Theatrical editions, director’s cuts, special-edition DVDs, anniversary editions, etc. If they buy the DVD now and the Blu-ray in a year, all the better for studio pockets, right? Assuming the consumer cares enough about quality to upgrade.

Instead of splitting the market, why not use the combo pack as the focal point of a campaign to push people to Blu-ray, instead of as a bonus for people who have already switched, as appears to be the case now?

I understand that the extra $5 or so dollars to pick up the combo pack may seem like a big deal for a family looking for cheap entertainment. But it’s worth the investment. With Blu-ray player prices dropping, more families will soon be able to get one. With a combo pack, you get the Blu-ray version for your main home theater and a DVD for bedrooms or travel. Or you can save the Blu-ray for the day you get the player.

I can imagine someone balking at a combo pack if they never intend to buy a Blu-ray player. I just don’t want to imagine that there’s enough people out there so closed-minded as to be against the concept of ever converting to Blu-ray that it would make a difference.

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