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NPD: Blu-ray Interest Rising — Slowly

17 Mar, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Consumer interest in next-generation packaged media format Blu-ray rose slightly last month following the end of the format war with rival HD DVD, according to a study by The NPD Group.

Interest among standard DVD consumers likely to buy HD packaged media increased to 10.8% for the week that ended Feb. 20, compared to 9.4% for the week that ended Feb. 13 and 8.9% for the week of Feb. 6. HD DVD interest, not surprisingly, dropped to 8.8%, from 10.6% (Feb. 13) the week before and 10.9% the prior week.

Comparative percentages for Blu-ray late last year ranged from 5% to 6.8% through Christmas.

Russ Crupnick, senior industry analyst with The NPD Group, cautioned the percentage increase indicated likely — not actual — buyers.

“The number is fairly conservative,” Crupnick said.

He said the slight surge was primarily due to the end of the format war and special Blu-ray promotions offering three movies for the price of two.

“You can take this as an overall trend that more people are aware and inclined toward the format,” Crupnick said.

But he said HD DVD continues to generate sales, with select consumer electronics retailers selling the Toshiba HD-A30 player for $129.

Crupnick said widespread adoption of Blu-ray continues to be stymied by costly price points for hardware and software and general satisfaction with standard DVD.

“Consumers are saying there is nothing wrong with the DVD they already have,” he said.

The analyst said additional challenges to wider Blu-ray adoption include sluggish consumer affinity for 1080p resolution and upconverting DVD players.

“The 1080p picture is going to look pretty good,” Crupnick said. “But 720p is increasingly affordable, and while Blu-ray works great on 720p, so will other things, such as DVD.”

He said In-Stat is in the process of studying the impact up-converting players have on the HD market.

“The question in the interim is: How quickly can 1080p become the definitive standard?” Crupnick said.

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