By the end of the year, Blu-ray Disc movies are expected to sell 400% more than they did just one year ago, say analysts with Futuresource Consulting, a startling revelation considering movie studios’ continuing challenge to sell catalogue/archive titles on Blu-ray. Perhaps even more startling: a cheap Blu-ray Disc player coming by year’s end.
UPDATE: Here is an update with 16 cheap Blu-ray players for the holiday season.
With a slumping American economy, all eyes are on Q4 and retail sales, with everyone wondering how big it will get — or fail to reach. The movie studios clearly hope for a big season, as indicated by their decision to release so many big movies on Blu-ray the same day they appear on standard DVD.
Futuresource estimates that consumers will buy close to 45 million Blu-ray discs in the United States this year, more than 400% up on last year, indicating a strong turnaround during Q3 and Q4.
“On big titles, the share of total sales being taken by BD has already hit 5% to 6%, and by Q4 it is possible we’ll see a 10% or even 12% share for some of the really big hitters,” said Mai Hoang, a lead analyst in the Futuresource Home Video team. “In Europe, awareness and uptake are still lower overall, although in the key markets the retailers and the studios are reacting to an uplift in interest this year and are gearing up for a good end to 2008.”
By 2012, between 40% and 50% of consumer spending on home video will be allocated to Blu-ray, according to the latest analysis from Futuresource.
What has been disappointing to date for the content companies has been the lack of catalogue title sales, although the studios are showing no signs of reducing their interest in catalogue product.
“All eyes are on Warner’s initiative to cut catalogue prices,” said Hoang. “Other studios and the retailers are going to be watching consumer reaction to this very carefully.”
However, on the whole, sales are picking up, an indication of progress for the high-definition Blu-ray format.
“Much of the drive behind this increase is coming from growing consumer awareness and falling hardware prices, coupled with PS3 owners increasingly using their consoles for video playback,” said Jack Wetherill, who focuses on the hardware business at Futuresource. “I would be amazed if we don’t see a Blu-ray player in the U.S. at or below $250 by the end of this year, and in order to stimulate consumer traffic in the holiday season who’s to say there won’t be a product at closer to $200?”