BDA: Ultra HD Blu-ray Sales Looking Strong, Boosted by TV and Player Uptake7 Nov, 2016 By: Stephanie Prange
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format sold its 1 millionth disc last month, racking up more then $25 million in consumer spending, according to data from Futuresource cited by the Blu-ray Disc Association.
“One of the key sound bites from [the January CES] was we hoped to have 100 titles out in this new format before the end of the year and that sounded very optimistic,” said Victor Matsuda, VP of the BDA. “But lo and behold, as of the week of Oct. 22, there are almost 90 titles — 88 titles to be exact — that we know are on the market, well on the way to actually more than 100 titles by the end of the year.”
The new format is riding a tailwind of 4K UHD TV shipments. Those shipments are expected to increase 80% this year, and another 40% in 2017, according to data from Futuresource. By the end of 2016, 16% of U.S. households are projected to have 4K Ultra HD sets.
“For the first time ever, as far as the No. 1 wanted customer feature for TVs, it was not, ‘I need a smart TV for Christmas or I need a bigger screen for Christmas.’ It was ‘I need a 4K UHD TV for Christmas,’” noted Matsuda, citing Futuresource consumer research.
Ultra HD Blu-ray players, too, are gaining ground. There are eight players on the market from Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Microsoft (Xbox One S), according to the BDA. So far, the standalone players (not including the Xbox One S) have sold 80,000 units in the United States, according to Futuresource data. Sony will soon be joining the market with its new Ultra HD Blu-ray player displayed at the recent IFA show. That player is expected to hit the market by the end of the company’s fiscal year.
While online services such as Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Video and FandangoNow boast 4K content with high dynamic range, Matsuda noted that the bandwidth needed to view such content is often not available. Netflix, for instance, recommends a consistent minimum download speed of at least 25 megabits per second to properly view 4K content with HDR, noted the BDA. Meanwhile, Akamai estimates average U.S. bandwidth at 15 mbps, according to the BDA. In the fastest U.S. markets, only 30% of users enjoy speeds greater than 25 mbps, the BDA noted.
“Blu-ray, when it came out, I think everyone immediately recognized that that’s the gold standard for high-definition, and they did it again with [Ultra HD Blu-ray],” said Don Eklund, SVP of new format promotion at Sony Corp. “This is up to 100 mbps for video. There’s no other video delivery system like that.”
Thus, UHD Blu-ray is “the perfect sidekick” to a 4K UHD TV, Matsuda noted, adding that Ultra HD Blu-ray players are a “swiss knife” of capabilities. They play physical formats such as Ultra HD Blu-rays, HD Blu-rays and DVDs. They act as a streaming device. And they offer local storage.
The BDA’s recent promotional activities for UHD BD have included an appearance by Warner Home Video president Ron Sanders and Panasonic Hollywood Lab’s Ron Martin on various PBS Channels. Extra footage will be utilized in the redesign of the BDA website. The website will also feature a new sizzle reel in 4K UHD. The BDA is also creating an education brochure for retailers.