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Can Blu-ray Capitalize on Catalog Upgrades?

29 May, 2008 By: John Latchem

As Blu-ray player penetration grows beyond the early adopter stage, the willingness of consumers to convert their catalog titles will be an important test in determining how well Blu-ray catches on.

One reason for the boom of DVD over the past decade was the enthusiasm with which collectors upgraded their VHS collections. I fear Blu-ray Disc may fall short of DVD when it comes to this conversion factor.

Regular readers of this magazine may have noticed our new Blu-ray Market Share chart, which tracks Blu-ray sales as a percentage of total home video sales for a particular title. For example, of all copies of Independence Day sold the week of May 5-11, 55.85% were the Blu-ray version, putting it third for the week.

At first glance, this makes it seem that picking up a Blu-ray copy is a top priority for ID4 fans, but further examination of Nielsen VideoScan data tells another story.

Total sales of ID4 that week amounted to about one-tenth of 1% of all ID4 copies ever sold in any format. So most people looking to own ID4 probably already have it.

Most titles with a high all-time BD share are new titles (or definitive releases of catalog titles, such as Blade Runner) released day-and-date on both formats, so consumers who don't have the title would just buy the Blu-ray without double dipping. The top 20 in this category ranges from 19% to 5% BD share.

As far as catalog goes, DVD quality is probably sufficient for most titles. The range of films actually improved in HD is probably limited to special-effects blockbusters such as ID4.

Factoring out VHS, Blu-ray amounts to only 1.2% of all-time ID4 disc sales, which means the BD has undersold the DVD by nearly 8,000%. By comparison, ID4 DVDs have outsold the VHS version by 461%. Comparing those conversion factors reveals Blu-ray has a way to go.

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