Report: Blu-ray Sales on the Rise

A report from The NPD Group reveals sales--and consumer awareness--of Sony's Blu-ray players are increasing.

Sales of Sony's Blu-ray stand-alone player are picking up, according to market research company NPD Group. Thanks to falling prices and increased consumer awareness, first-quarter sales of Blu-ray players in the United States grew to more than 400,000 units, an increase of 72 percent over the same period last year.
NPD's March 2009 "Blu-ray Report" also revealed overall consumer awareness of the BD (Blu-ray Disc) format in the United States has reached 90 percent in the past six months. In NPD's most recent tracking surveys, purchase intent for Blu-ray set-top boxes also rose slightly, with 6 percent of respondents saying they would be "extremely or very likely" to buy in the next six months, compared with 5 percent who responded similarly in the August report.
Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD, said the rise in penetration of high-definition televisions and falling Blu-ray player prices are broadening the format's market opportunity. "Even as options expand for accessing movies digitally, Blu-ray is carrying forward the widespread appeal of DVD into the high-definition marketplace," he said.
BD is an optical disk storage medium with up to 50 GB of capacity. The high-definition optical disk format war that emerged between Sony and Toshiba's rival HD DVD offering split consumers and contributed to slowed adoption. Sony declared victory in February 2008, when Toshiba announced it would no longer produce HD DVD players.
The survey results, collected via an online survey of 6,994 consumers, conducted from February 25 through March 6, 2009, found recent BD player buyers are being influenced most often by pricing, promotions and sales. As a result, actual prices and consumer expectations are increasingly in alignment. According to NPD's retail tracking service, the ASP (average selling price) for a stand-alone player fell nearly 34 percent, to $261 in the first quarter of 2009 from $393 dollars in the first quarter of 2008.
When queried about the reasons for not purchasing BD, respondents reported that their current DVD player is "good enough," they feel the cost of hardware or software is an issue, or they simply aren't interested in the product. The report indicates that consumers who claim that they are likely to buy in the next six months expect to pay $214 on average. Despite evidence of high awareness levels, the survey found that more than half of adults (58 percent) continue to report that they are still "not very familiar" with BD.
NPD entertainment industry analyst Russ Crupnick said the leading driver of Blu-ray purchase intent is recommendations from friends, family or co-workers. "Blu-ray's superiority used to be difficult for many consumers to grasp, but when friends rave about it, or demonstrate Blu-ray in their homes, they are selling the benefits in a way that is far more effective than simply viewing an advertisement or seeing it demonstrated at a retail store," he said.