By Thomas K. Arnold | Posted: 23 Feb 2009
Consumers are on target to buy more than 100 million Blu-ray Discs this year, nearly three times the total purchased in 2008, according to new projections from a leading home entertainment research firm.
Futuresource Consulting cites strong sales of HD-capable TV sets and the continuing slide in BD player prices as factors behind the expected uptick, which includes sales from the United States, Western Europe and Japan.
Mai Hong, senior market analyst with Futuresource, said the bulk of those projected sales will occur in the United States, where Blu-ray Disc already has moved beyond the early adopter stage and is now in the “early majority” phase.
“Last year in the United States alone, BD video retail sales increased by a whopping 320% to 24 million units, and we’re going to see momentum continuing in 2009, with [more than] 80 million disc sales forecast,” Hong said.
In Western Europe consumers last year bought 9 million Blu-ray units, and “further healthy growth” is expected in 2009, particularly in the United Kingdom.
“The U.K. is the largest market for BD in Western Europe,” Hong said. “With sales of more than 3.5 million units in 2008, it represented [more than] 40% of the West European total.”
The total number of Blu-ray Discs sold in 2008 is estimated at 36 million, according to Futuresource. Meanwhile, more than 200 million discs were manufactured, according to senior consultant Michael Boreham. He said that while a portion of the remaining discs can be accounted for by multidisc titles and promotional campaigns, the majority is “ ‘pipeline fill,’ where product is placed into the supply chain in readiness for the growth in hardware sales, and to enable the retailers to build their in-store displays.”
“There were concerns over how well the manufacturers would cope with the demands placed on them last year, but as a result of good planning and excellent cooperation, there were no problems in the busy fourth quarter,” Boreham said. “It’s going to be interesting to see what happens this year, as we’re not seeing the same level of investment in manufacturing equipment that we saw in the early days of DVD.”
Jim Bottoms, managing director at Futuresource, said the Blu-ray Disc software market is driven by new releases, particularly action adventure titles that appeal strongly to the young male demographic, “which also closely matches the PS3 owner profile.”
“For some high-profile titles, close to 25% of all disc sales have been on BD, while other action adventure titles consistently see BD accounting for [more than] 15% of total sales,” Bottoms said.
Noting that there are currently more than 1,100 Blu-ray Disc titles in the marketplace, Bottoms predicts, “the rise of Blu-ray will offset rapidly declining sales of standard DVD product.”
“By 2012, around 50% of U.S. and 35% of Western European video disc retail sale volumes will be Blu-ray,” he said.