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Blu-ray Debate

14 May, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I had an interesting conversation with an independent DVD/Blu-ray Disc supplier who shall remain nameless. The gentleman opined that Blu-ray Disc has a long, hard road ahead of it, and that the masses just don't care. He cited as an example a title he recently put out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc at the same time, at the same price, with zero premium, and just 5% of total sales came from Blu-ray. "We're in the industry, so of course we have Blu-ray players and watch Blu-ray Discs," he said. "But we have to think of the other people."

Well, it just so happens the title he was referring to was a fitness video for pregnant moms. I pointed out this was hardly the demographic Blu-ray Disc marketers are targeting, and that 5% was actually pretty good. "But that's my point," he said. "Blu-ray is not yet at the masses, and it's been nearly three years since the format came out."

I pointed out that a good chunk of my non-work circle does, in fact, now have a Blu-ray Disc player, including a) a painting contractor who coaches my oldest son's baseball team; 2) a young woman who sells ads for print publications; 3) a ski shop clerk up in Big Bear; and 4) Richard, my plumber. None of these people are what you would call an early adopter, and the fact that they all bought Blu-ray players when their DVD players went kaput certainly says something about the format's future reach.

I also noted a recent blog posting of mine about a study that indicate Blu-ray Disc players are enjoying quite a sales boom, despite the down economy (you can read it by clicking here).

He seemed unconvinced, although I added up all my points and felt even better about Blu-ray Disc than I had before.

To add to everyone's optimism about Blu-ray, let's take a look at the latest Nielsen VideoScan charts that break down the percentage of a title's buy by format. We see titles like Quantum of Solace (26%) and Transformers (17%), and I'm thinking, Blu-ray is responsible for a significant percentage of those titles' total sales.  Then again, those two titles are tailor-made for the early adopter, the young adult male who likes lots of action and lots of special effects.

But if you look further down the chart you'll see that some pretty atypical titles also are picking up some Blu-ray traction. Just last week, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button generated 14% of its sales from Blu-ray. We're talking a drama here, and one that stars Brad Pitt, with high appeal among women viewers. Then you've got Frost/Nixon, which I would imagine skews toward older viewers, with a 10% Blu-ray share. Even Bride Wars, a chick flick if there ever was one, generated 6% of its sales from Blu-ray.

Those are decent percentages, dear readers--and a far cry from just this past holiday season, when an across-the-board percentage of about 3% was the norm.

Blu-ray's got momentum, folks. The evidence just keeps piling up.


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