Blu-ray uptake improving as prices drop

Summary:Make Blu-ray almost as cheap as DVDs and it will sell. $40 Blu-ray players and $1.99 Blu-rays sell like hotcakes. Is the industry ready to accept near-DVD pricing for Blu-ray quality?

Black Friday revealed a lot of enthusiasm for cheap Blu-ray products. Home Media Magazine reported 

"A visit to an Oceanside, Calif., Walmart on Thursday evening shortly after the store’s 8 p.m. opening found cart after cart brimming with Blu-ray Discs, which were selling for as little as $1.96 in high-profile “bargain bins” in the main aisles. . . .

Meanwhile, at a nearby Best Buy, discs began flying off shelves — or, more accurately, out of bargain bins — within minutes of the store’s 6 a.m. Friday opening. Recent hits such as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows as well as older films such as Traffic were available for $3.99 each on Blu-ray."

Walmart reportedly sold out of an LG Blu-ray player priced at less than $40.

The Storage Bits take  I've been critical of Blu-ray marketing for years (see Blu-ray is dead, heckuva a job Sony! and Blu-ray: death by streaming), but hopeful that high-capacity optical media can continue to exist. The key is a broad consumer market for physical media, including Blu-ray.

But the current price delta between DVDs and Blu-ray - about $10 - is keeping the DVD, not Blu-ray, the option of choice for buyers for all but a few movies such as Avatar, The Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman. Clearly, $10 more is too much for most people for most movies.

Hollywood's notoriously opaque financials probably mean that no one is capable of a simple cost-benefit analysis, but if Hollywood wants to keep selling physical media they need one. The sunk cost is the movie. Whatever the additional production costs of a Blu-ray are - and they aren't much - the short-term focus on higher profits from Blu-ray is killing the physical media business.

I prefer Blu-ray - just bought The Matrix Blu-ray online for $8 - but not at big markups. And it seems most Americans agree.

Hollywood: WAKE UP! Once consumers stop buying physical media you'll be paying telcos and cable companies for distribution - just as Procter & Gamble pays for store shelf space - and you'll wonder how current execs could have been so stupid. I've been wondering that for years.

Comments welcome, of course. 3D won't save Blu-ray either: only Avatar has a majority of its sales in 3D. And 4k is even further off.

Topics: Storage


Robin Harris is Chief Analyst at TechnoQWAN LLC, a storage research and consulting firm he founded in 2005. Based in Sedona, Arizona, TechnoQWAN focuses on emerging technologies, products, companies and markets. Robin has over 35 years experience in the IT industry and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton... Full Bio

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