Blu-ray uptake improving as prices drop

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?

TOPICS: Storage

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.

Topic: Storage

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  • sigh

    I still buy bluray. Just got Salt for $3.99 yesterday.

    But... the only reason I buy is because online streaming (despite what anyone says) quality sucks. It is completely awful. Sound is awful.

    Nothing compares to bluray on a proper HTS.

    When the online providers fix their bandwidth issues and ISPs stop it with the caps, then blu-ray will be out of luck.
    • I agree. Streaming is still beyond horrible.

      Having a movie stop dead to buffer during a high-adrenaline battle scene ruins the movie watching experience. The need for more bandwidth is growing daily, while the actual available bandwidth is nearly capped out already. Until quantum transmission devices become a reality, we're stuck depending on an ancient infrastructure to deliver far beyond its physical limitations.

      So, like Wendell, I still buy Blu-rays. The thing is, for most movies like comedies or documentaries, an up-scaled DVD looks just as good. So, why pay the extra $10 premium for the Blu-ray? For that reason, I still find myself buying a lot of DVDs. This proves Robin's point. Unless it is an epic visual effects movie, I don't spend the extra $10 premium. If that premium were removed, I'd buy all Blu-ray all the time. The only thing holding Blu-ray back from massive popularity is the price gouging by the greedy a-holes running the studios.
      • Streaming is pretty reliable around here

        "Having a movie stop dead to buffer during a high-adrenaline battle scene ruins the movie watching experience."

        I'm curious how often this problem happens to you. In my experience, Netflix and Hulu streaming are smooth nearly all the time. If I had to guess I'd say I see buffering delays once in about 80 to 100 hours of viewing, if even that much. Of course I don't claim to actually keep records, but very few shows I watch online are interrupted.
    • That is unfortunate for you...

      that you have been so spoiled by this apparently awesome blu-ray video and audio quality that you cannot even enjoy watching something in 1080p that is streamed online (streaming from the Xbox is very nice). The issue is that streaming is "good enough" for 90% of the population, so Blu-Ray is really not desired by enough people. A lot of blu-ray owners I know only use it because they don't understand computers and the thought of streaming something over the internet is waay above their heads.
    • not sure who or what you are streaming

      but i get 720p 5.1 surround which is great for movies that don't have alot of special effects. I can also rent for $4.99 before ploping down $25 for a blu-ray(so glad i didn't buy the latest Spiderman POS on blu-ray). What benefit does 1080p 7.1 surround bring to say a comedy or a drama? Answer:Nothing! Blu-ray for movies with lots of cgi and special effects and streaming for everything else.
  • Just imagine if...

    the movie industry wasn't controlled by Sony. They could have been making money all these years with that other, cheaper and better disc...
    Tony Burzio
    • Yeah!

      That pissed me off! I loved HD-DVD.
  • Not a fan of Blu-ray

    Every time I pop in a disc that has come in the mail from Netflix, I am reminded why Blu-ray drives me crazy.
    You have to sit through FBI warnings and multiple trailers BEFORE you can watch the movie. And, then if there is glitch in the disc and you have to clean it and start over, you get to see the FBI trailers all over again.
    • that one button...

      with the "|>>" symbol works wonders :)
      • Not

        Not all the time.
  • Blu-ray uptake improving as prices drop

    I'm still a fan of the physical media such as DVD and Blu-ray because of the bonus scenes. Don't get the bonus scenes when streaming media.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • It is still Sony

    I made the decision to boycott Sony many years ago, and have yet to see anything from them to make me rethink that choice. As long as I have other options (and I have many) BluRay is a no go for me.
    • Sony is pretty lame

      They've had an amazingly horrendous track record in promoting media formats: Betamax, SuperAudio CD, miniDisc, DAT, Memory Stick and now BluRay. Some of these have been technically excellent from a quality standpoint, but the desire to maintain a proprietary, closed environment has repeatedly done them in.

      I definitely agree that BluRay quality improves the viewing experience, but it is such a hassle with locked down previews, ever changing copy protection schemes that require firmware updates, etc. that unless the movie is particularly visually stunning, I tend to opt for streaming as the path of least hassle.

      The only thing that impresses me about Sony these days is their cameras - they really are innovating here.
  • Bluray

    Bluray is only doing well because Hollywood refuses to smarten up on the streaming service.

    If it weren't for the fact that buying a digital copy of a movie might end up with it not being available for streaming later on, I would never buy a physical disc again!

    As much as I like the physical media, I hate that you have to keep track of them, dig through them to find what you want, and pack them up if you decide to move.
    • Optical media lighter than books!

      On average I've moved every 3 years for the last 45. Lots of packing! And while DVDs are bulky, they are way lighter than books. That's why I've been getting rid of books.

      As for cataloging I use the Mac program Delicious Library for my 1300 DVDs which grabs info from Amazon. I sort DVDs into rough alphabetical order and have few problems finding what I'm looking for.
      R Harris
  • Why buy?

    I asked myself that question when I discarded a few hundred VHS tapes I bought over the years after I decided I would watch nothing but DVDs from that point on. Now I am trying to unload DVDs...I accumulated a few of those too. In both cases, nearly half of what I had was (is) still unopened.

    Well, this time, I'm not going to do it. I rent my blu-ray disks, I don't buy them. I don't own a single one. I almost never re-watch movies within the same decade time span -- and when I buy them, there is no urgency to watch them so many go unwatched until well after the next big thing comes along.
  • Should have happened a long time ago

    Now it's more like a desperate act. With streaming and many other forms of bulk storage available to use (64G thumbdrives) who needs Blu-Ray anyhow?
  • Picture Quality is Not Enough

    I used to be the first in line to buy, but by the time Blu ray is getting sales, I'm already buying/renting hd from iTunes to sync to idevices and stream through Apple TV. Plus iCloud syncing is the best thing they offer. I'm sure Blu ray looks better overall, but, unless your a die hard home theatre buff, it's kind of not worth it. I was skeptical of iTunes at first, but I haven't had any trouble with it so far. I think I'm just gonna pass on the blue ray. Just another box that I don't need to hook up and wire in. And I agree, no way would I pay extra for a disc when it is meant to be the new standard. They seem to have lost sight of the customer altogether.
    Shane Choinard
  • Thoughts on consoles?

    Just curious what people think will power the next generation of consoles? Looks like Wii U has gone proprietary opitcal (I don't have one, just read that on Wiki). PlayStation will clearly stick with BluRay. I wonder what MS will do with the next Xbox? I can't imagine they would be happy about paying Sony to license BluRay but I can't imagine that the next Xbox won't have some kind of optical drive that supports storage capacities bigger than 8GB.
  • DVD rules over Blu-Ray & Streaming Prices

    I prefer the DVD. I do have a few BR Discs but other then that, I only spend like $5 DVD bins @ Walmart and Target's DVDs and Blu-Rays are outragous prices. I mean I would not pay over $30 per movie UNLESS it is rare and classic like Disney titles... But over-all most of the time I spend $20 for 3-4 movies @ Walmart. So yeah, I prefer Disc over streaming, same with music CDs. But yeah, if the world lived without streaming online, I think the Discs stores would still be around... I grew up in the 80s and I remember Blockbuster Video! So yeah, those where the days. Part of my body says "get movies on itunes" and other part says "nah, I rather own the Discs" it is so confusing sometimes to shop for movies!! But yeah, I see where you guys are coming from!