With the decline of DVD sales, the question on everyone’s lips is: will Blu-ray go the same way? Blu-ray is after all the proverbial new kid on the block with a lot to prove. So how can Blu-ray weather the storm when its older brother now needs all hands on deck?
Well, it is really not all that bad particularly if one considers what the world is going through economically. Indeed, studios remain very optimistic when it comes to Blu-ray, and rightly so. Blu-ray is increasingly offering consumers the best of both worlds: competitive pricing and unparalleled technology.
According to an article in The Times, the DVD marketplace – sales and rentals – currently accounts for the bulk of the U.S.’ global home entertainment market but is predicted to show a decline of 7.5 percent.
However, this decline is now partly offset by the growth of Blu-ray and is expected to be closer to 4 percent.
The above is clearly indicative of Blu-ray’s arrival; while not massive it is giving the home entertainment industry a lifeline of sorts which is noteworthy in our current climate.
Last December was undoubtedly a clear indication of things to come, with many manufacturers slashing Blu-ray player pricing to make it more affordable for the general consumer. In South Africa we enjoyed phenomenal sales over the festive season and from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s
(SPHE) perspective we expect to conservatively grow our BD title business by 20 percent this year.
In general, Blu-ray is performing better than DVD when it was launched in the 1990s. Key to this growth has been the industry’s concerted efforts to eradicate pricing, from a software and hardware perspective, as well as ensuring that people don’t have to get rid of their libraries of DVDs – numerous players such as the Sony S350 and PlayStation 3 are backwards compatible.
Indeed, it has been a major part of our campaign to assure people that the migration to Blu-ray can be a gradual one – there is no need to start selling DVD collections at the next neighbourhood garage sale.
In South Africa the success of DSTV’s High Definition (HD) PVRs and subsequent HD channel have also contributed to the wellbeing of Blu-ray.
People now understand that HD is the next step in the evolution of video and audio and as a result are buying into the format with considerable vigour.
Blu-ray has also enjoyed fantastic support from the country’s rental marketplace. Interestingly, our initial campaigns did not target rental groups but their enthusiasm has been truly noteworthy and today they contribute significantly to the awareness and general consumer buy-in of the format.
However, with all this said, how is South African faring? Are we really contributing to the longevity of Blu-ray? The answer is a resounding yes.
The estimated market for Blu-ray discs sold is 30 million units of which South Africa has sold almost 20 000 copies in 2008, of which half were represented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE). This is considerable if one considers the size of our marketplace as well as Blu-ray’s relatively late entry-to-market.
Furthermore, we’ve exceed every milestone we’ve set for ourselves – conservatively we did not expect to have achieved so many BD title sales.
We are also meeting the user demand of more titles and released our 100th title towards the end of last year. More recently, we have launched a new, educational Blu-ray website for SA consumers (www.bluraydisc.co.za).
What has been noteworthy throughout this journey is the industry cooperation. We all have Blu-ray’s best interests at heart and understand that commitment to the format will benefit us all in the long run.
With this said, we believe the sheer value of Blu-ray will drive its growth
– the technology and phenomenal viewing pleasure speak for itself and this is a fantastic foundation to work from.