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Research: Blu-ray Players Sold Well on Black Friday

By Chris Tribbey | Posted: 09 Dec 2008

Blu-ray Disc enjoyed a remarkable week after Thanksgiving, selling 147,000 standalone players, for a total of $30.3 million in revenue, according to research firms NPD Group and DisplaySearch.

While different methodologies prevented the companies from offering specific year-over-year comparisons, a DisplaySearch representative called the numbers “very strong.” Comparing sales in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, Blu-ray players never reached more than 50,000 units sold in a week, according to the research.

However, sales of DVD players were down nearly 25% compared to last year, with 457,000 units moved for $18.5 million in revenue. Upconverters represented about 20% of the total units sold, the companies said.

“With the decline in DVD sales, a lot of pressure has been placed on Blu-ray,” said Paul Erickson, director of DVD and HD market research for DisplaySearch. “Purely on a standalone player basis, Blu-ray has been lower than DVD [during DVD’s second year] and it’s unlikely Blu-ray will ever catch it.

“To be fair, DVD is the most successful consumer electronics hit of all time.”

A combination of aggressive advertising and a significant drop in price helped push more Blu-ray players out of stores. With some players at $128, and Sony’s popular BDP-S350 hitting $179 on Black Friday, consumers were given a tough choice between true high-definition and $49 upconverting DVD players.

“Sony was fairly active in bundling players with HDTVs,” Erickson said. “But price aggression is proving to be the fundamental way to drive Blu-ray players into homes. This holiday, that’s probably going to continue.” His firm is predicting nearly 4 million standalone Blu-ray players will be sold in 2009.

Sony led all Blu-ray player manufacturers with a 53% share in both units sold and revenue made. Samsung and Panasonic were a distant second and third, respectively. The Sony BDP-S350 and Samsung’s BD-P1500 were responsible for just under 80% of both units and revenue, thanks to their sub-$200 price tags.

For DVD, Memorex’s two under-$30 players helped it gain a 50% market share in units sold, with Sony and Samsung far behind.

In the HDTV arena, big screen sizes (40 inches and above) accounted for more than half of all Black Friday sales. Stephen Baker, VP of industry analysis for the NPD Group, added that Black Friday this year showed regional chains stepping up, and that Wal-Mart has emerged as a consumer electronics force.

The recession did have its impact on Black Friday: one-third of those surveyed by NPD who were in the market for an HDTV said they could no longer afford to buy one. Paul Gagnon, director of North American TV market research for DisplaySearch, said year-over-year sales will likely be flat when all is said and done for 2008.

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