Despite Winning The HD Format War, Blu-Ray Sales Dropped

from the whoops dept

We’ve been pretty harsh on the warring camps over the next generation DVD standard, pointing out, frankly, that most people just didn’t care, and the longer the two sides battled, the worse the problem would get. However, even given that I wouldn’t have expected the latest news that Blu-ray sales have plummeted from January to February, following its eventual win in the standards battle. Research group NPD chalks up the sales drop to the high prices of Blu-ray DVD players… but that doesn’t make any sense. The players were already expensive — so you’d at least expect sales to remain constant, even if selling prices may have bumped up a bit without the HD DVD competition.

My guess is that a few different things may have impacted the decline in sales. First, there’s the seasonal aspect of it (and February is a short month). But, perhaps even more important is that the whole standards battle itself turned users off from any form of next generation DVDs. Those who were HD DVD early adopters are pissed off that they bet on the wrong horse, and those who didn’t follow the space closely just know that some folks got screwed — and don’t want to take the chance. One other factor may be the widespread stories warning people not to buy Blu-ray, because the player profile is getting updated, and many older players are not upgradeable. Either way, the backers of Blu-ray can’t be all that thrilled that the end of the standards battle didn’t lead to a jump in sales. Perhaps they should have spent a bit more time coming up with reasons for consumers to buy rather than wasting all that time fighting with HD DVD.

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Comments on “Despite Winning The HD Format War, Blu-Ray Sales Dropped”

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56 Comments
Beefcake says:

Economics + The Cause

Like comment 1, economics is largely playing a huge role. Fewer dollars = fewer sales.

Additionally, if Americans’ fanatacism toward picking a side in any “us v. them” engagement (sports, politics, societal issues, etc) is any indicator, once there was no “them”, the passion for being proven “right” departed and took with it a factor that motivates otherwise unnecessary purchases. Less motivation = fewer sales.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

As I’ve said before, from the perspective of the living room couch most people would not be able to tell the difference between a Blu-ray from an up-sampled DVD on a 720p TV. Similarly, most people would not be able to tell the difference between a Blu-ray and an up-sampled DVD on a 46″ or less 1080p TV. In other words, to the vast majority of people there would not be a sufficient difference to warrant upgrading.

With DVDs you can easily (but illegally) put them on your iPod. You can take them in the car. Because DVD players are cheap, you can play them from any room in the house. DVDs are simply more versatile than Blu-rays.

And DVDs simply work. There have been numerous reports of Blu-rays such as “Live Free or Die Hard” simply not working due to DRM crap. People are sick of upgrading their computers, so they certainly do not want to upgrade their components. People expect, no, they demand that such devices just work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As I’ve said before, from the perspective of the living room couch most people would not be able to tell the difference between a Blu-ray from an up-sampled DVD on a 720p TV. Similarly, most people would not be able to tell the difference between a Blu-ray and an up-sampled DVD on a 46″ or less 1080p TV.

That’s not true at all. If the quality is different, it’s different. On my 1080p TV, with good cables, you can absolutely see a difference. We tested the theory by having friends and relatives over and 100% of the time they could tell whether the movie was 1080p or DVD. It’s a matter of more than double the resolution… it’s a big difference.

Now, as far as the slump in sales goes, it should be expected. With everyone running around talking about recessions, lay offs, housing markets tanking, etc, why would you think entertainment sales would increase? Especially the expensive side of entertainment sales.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I certainly agree that the economy is a huge factor.

However, I have no idea how large your living room is, whether you compared against an up-sampling DVD player, the quality of the Blu-ray/DVD transfer (let’s face it, on some older movies even the quality of Blu-rays suck) and the size of your TV.

Even still, I guess what I should have said is that most people would not see a sufficient difference to upgrade.

I should point out that I’m not some sort of Blu-ray hater. I certainly love Blu-ray and rent them from Netflix over DVDs every time.

Matt says:

of course!

Bluray drives do not all work universally, first and foremost.
The prices are seriously exorbitant, and the storage space of the disks is intentionally capped (they’re supposed to be 50gig each layer, instead we have 25….whups! Kinda like how they tried to make dual layer dvd’s unavailable/no major consumer drivers that could write them available to “discourage piracy”), and there are different versions that will not play on all devices nor play all videos.

Bluray will never see a drop of my money, it’s all going to independent artists who continue to suck up more and more.

Mike says:

BLU-RAY intermediate solution

Three reasons why Blu Ray is not selling. One is most people that are able to afford the technology can also download high definition content via Tivo, Satellite, or On Demand Cable content. Two is that its inordinately expensive for a disk. And three when you can buy the standard disc and use the H 264 upconverters which retail much lower and still get a good picture why bother.

Jason Unger (user link) says:

It's The PS3 That Matters

Anonymous@7 is right — it’s a flawed study.

It’s ridiculous to say Blu-ray sales are down when the best/cheapest/most popular player — the PS3 — isn’t included in the research.

The NPD is only looking at “standalone” players, which doesn’t include the PS3.

You can’t base any trend on this. Throw in the PS3 sales numbers and then make a conclusion.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: It's The PS3 That Matters

“the PS3 — isn’t included in the research”

Why the hell would anyone buy a stand alone player that isn’t upgradable to the 2.0 when they can get a PS3 that is the same price as the cheapest player and can do more?

Yeah, those numbers sound a little off.

Silverwolf (user link) says:

Re: Re: It's The PS3 That Matters

The PS3 is a GAME CONSOLE, it is not now and never will be a BLUE RAY PLAYER.

Just because the machine can also play Blue Ray Movies doesn’t make it a Blue Ray Player.

The same way a PS2 is not a DVD player, just because it happens to also be able to play DVD’s.

These machines are primarily Game Consoles and as such are targeted to Gamers. Most people wouldn’t even consider purchasing a game console to watch movies on.

Matt (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: incorrect

Incorrect, many times over. It is a blue ray player.

Plenty of people have talked about buying gaming systems for express purposes other than what they were intended.

If I were to buy bluray, I as well would only do it via buying a PS3. Note the if: I will never support bluray, but if I did, that would be how. Why pay for a single use device when you can turn a PS3 eventually into a fully functional PC? Logic? Oh wait, maybe someone needs the “all in one mediacard reader” in the bluray player. Yeah, thats it.

Remember when people were making nice linux boxes out of xboxes? aka http://www.xbox-linux.org/

Or the yellowdog linux people have on PS3? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_for_PlayStation_3

Oh wait, here’s a more direct one: Ever heard of xbox media center? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xbox_Media_Center

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re:2 incorrect

That is just foolish to use that as proof of your idea. How widespread is the use of consoles as PCs? How does that have anything to do with PS3 sales for Blu-Ray discs. I couldnt even fathom how few people use linux, let alone that can afford a PS3 and have the brains to put linux on it. Besides, PS3s are huge and ugly, i dont want a 15 pount hunk of shiny metal on my floor just so i can say i finally have an upgradable Blu-ray player

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: It's The PS3 That Matters

“These machines are primarily Game Consoles and as such are targeted to Gamers. Most people wouldn’t even consider purchasing a game console to watch movies on.”

You are wrong, wrong, wrong. The PS3 is a blu-ray player and I believe it’s the single most popular one out there. Even the industry considers it so – Buena Vista had a 5 free disks offer and PS3 was eligible.

I, personally, bought a PS3 for blu-ray + PS *2* play. I have not yet bought a PS3 game for it; I may eventually but in the meantime I have bought BD’s.

It makes sense that the PS3 would be a big Christmas seller and then drop some the next month and start slowly climbing back up.

rattran (profile) says:

Disc prices here too

Bluray prices have gone up just due to no real specials since January. I’d been buying about 10 discs a month before, Feb-Apr I added a total of 9 discs to my collection. $29.99-$34.99 a movie just isn’t worth it to me, even though I’m an early adopter of both formats.

I’ve gotten a pile of clearance HD-dvd discs in that time for ~$10 each.

xvisorxx says:

Blu ray sales down

I Bet on the wrong horse, Im not purchasing a Blu Ray player any time soon, the economy is in a slump, and I would rather pay off my bills on time rather than paying up the wazoo for some stupid player, I have noticed that there are hd content services on line so Ill just try those for now. anyways I dont like sony. I also noticed that out of the 15 hd dvds I have purchased 3 have had problems, I have had to return them. so im not even buying those anymore. one good thing, I purchased the 2 year warranty from best buy, so im sure my hd dvd payer will fail before the warranty is up.

LeBon says:

PS3 is a games machine

There’s no way to effectively include the PS3 in this because it’s a game machine first and foremost and majority buy it as such. How to determine how many buy it solely as a Blu-Ray player. Certainly some do and sales for the PS3 have gone up, however there are other reasons to consider for that including ongoing reliability fears with the 360, improving game library on the PS3, and so on.

My feeling is that Blu-Ray players need to get down around $100 in order to start picking up steam. Either that, or there needs to be some industry strong-arming to kill off DVD and force the move.

Anonymous Coward says:

johnnyq is correct: “Hmm.. if you include PS3 sales, you’re probably overinflating numbers since they’re not buying the PS3 for Blu-Ray. OTOH, if you don’t include the numbers, you’re still missing a big part of the story.”

There are PS3s out there that have never been used to play a blu-ray movie, and there are some out there that do nothing but. As far as counting towards the success of the format, it should count partially towards the total… 1/2, 1/3, 1/10… the trouble is, I don’t think anybody knows what the proportion really is. I’m curious what percentage of PS3s are hooked up to standard def televisions?

Trilox says:

Economy & Over Priced Hardware

Economy, gas prices, and tax time are probably the number one factors right now for the slump in prices. The thing that really bites is that as soon as the death of HD-DVD was annonced, all the BluRay players started the upward (or downward, depending on the unit) climb to a $400 price tag. A couple places had players jumping to over $600. What, they think a lot of people wouldn’t notice this. No competition = Sony screws us all (and the other bluray producers). Sony probably owns stock in oil too.. LOL.

some random dude says:

So Called Missing PS3 Sales

some people said “what about ps3?”

PS3 sales rose only 4% from January to February. I say only because every other system’s sales rose more than 4%. the Xbox 360 rose 11% and the Wii 58%

http://www.joystiq.com/2008/03/13/february-npd-industry-sales-hit-1-33b-xbox-360-still-trailing/

and in case you’re wondering about march, PS3 sales went DOWN 9%, while 360 rose 3% and Wii rose 40%.

http://www.joystiq.com/2008/04/17/march-npd-wii-smash-bros-on-top-software-sales-surge/

LeBon says:

“Incorrect, many times over. It is a blue ray player.”

It’s not marketed as a Blu-Ray player, the Playstation brand has always been a gaming brand. Of course there are exceptions but the fact of the matter is the PS3 is a gaming machine and key driver of sales is and always will be its games catalog. The Blu-Ray player is a bonus but totally secondary for the vast majority of buyers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course sales dropped. No one wanted into this format war in the first place. So, we waged war on the upper crust. People with large amounts of money did the deciding. I know I can’t afford one. Then there’d inevitably be the replacement of all my fav movies to one of the two formats. If I chose poorly, then I’m left with something thats a dead end piece of equipment. DVD’s are relatively inexpensive and quite abundant. HD-DVD and Bluray occupy small tiny shelves where I live. The format war smacks of “I’m cool” cause I have one sociopathical acceptance. Gas is through the roof, inflation is on the rise….FUCK bluray…….FUCK HD-DVD. I need my job and an inexpensive way to get entertainment. When are people going to understand that we have gotten tired of the must have the newest piece of crap? Audiophiles bicker about if digital sounds better than non digital…if the vacuum tubes of old stereo’s sounds better than the MP3 player. Videophiles do the same damn thing. I sit down to a movie to relish in the story, action, drama…..not if I can see EVERY hair on King Kong’s balls. So, the 3.95 rental DVD and my Dual Layer DVD writer, along with 12 bucks worth of blanks…do the god damn math. idiots.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good timing for me for HD-DVD to lose. I just went out picked up an Xbox 360 HD-DVD player for $30. I really wanted Planet Earth HD-DVD, Blade Runner collection, etc. Pretty much everything I actually wanted to own was on HD-DVD already. Discovery Channel selling Planet Earth for $25 with free shipping sealed the deal for me. Plenty of cheap HD-DVD movies out there too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lack of Content and Limit of Medium

Because, at last check, there’s only slightly more than jack sh*t for content in HD.

Very few of my >1000 DVDs will be re-purchased in HD format. Certainly not at $25-30 USD each.

Movie type entertainment is just not worth that money. This has less to do with the quality and more to do with the limited entertainment value of sitting in a dark room watching a rapid series of 2 dimensional still images flash by on a flat screen.

By comparison, a good $50 video game gives me about 48 hours of entertainment. Seems a much better entertainment value.

Even my bike, on a per-hour-of-entertainment, is a much better value.

Shelley (user link) says:

Myth busting:

The real issue, as mentioned elsewhere, is the economy. Sales of everything have tanked.

As for up-converting being as good as blu-ray, I have both blu-ray and up-converting and I can most definitely see the difference. However, I will not be replacing my old DVDs–only a few treasured and new purchases. Everything costs more now, and food and gas come first.

Prices of blu-ray players have remained static, and any minor fluctuation is due to seasonal differences.

Older blu-ray models will be able to play the movies, but may not be able to use the special features. Since most people buy movies for the movies, not being able to upgrade the blu-ray player is really not an issue.

The average Jack and Jill does not care about DRM.

Jman594 says:

Re: Re:

As for your Myth Busting, there is nothing wrong with the economy persey, the problem is the weak dollar. OPEC said it, why should they care about the US and their weak dollar. Do you hear about people in Europe whining about gas prices? You don’t because their currency almost doubles the value of ours.

What was it that happend two years ago in congress? Something about the American people have spoken. Well, hope your all happy. Can’t blame the one at the top, he doen’t write bills to drain the value of the dollar. Forcing lenders to make risky loans (which lowers the dollar) and then calling them assholes and preditory lenders for doing exactly what congress told them. You guys have no sense. Don’t bitch to me about losing jobs (GM), paying for light bulbs (2011), or saving the environment until you all stop using gas, electricity, or any other form of energy that creates a carbon footprint.

Nasa NOW says that we may be in for Global cooling for the next 10 to 25 years. Fuck you Al Gore!!

Trilox says:

Myth Busting?

“Prices of blu-ray players have remained static, and any minor fluctuation is due to seasonal differences.”

Minor fluctuation?

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/blu-ray-player-prices-hit-2008-highs-competition-dwindles,5010.html

I don’t know where you’ve been getting your prices from but some of the players before the war ended for BluRay’s were as much as a $100 cheaper, on average from week to week.
I bought the Samsung BD-P1400 in October of last year as a birthday gift for myself, before the holiday season. It was almost as cheap as it was in January.

Only a couple players came down in price, which was good as some of those players were around $1000. Now the article I posted is a bit older and the chart only goes up to March 12th., but go look for yourself on the prices of the players in the list. The cheap one on the list, the Sony BDP-S300 was at $307. If you check around it’s price is now $399 just like the rest of the players. These aren’t seasonal changes, these are due to a unchallenged playing field.

Shelley (user link) says:

Re: Myth Busting?

That report was flawed, as was noted when it first came out. I bought my blu-ray for 363.00 before the End of the Wars, and it’s now 399.00, accountable by season differences. The Sony player is also 399.00, and that was about it’s prices at that time, too.

In fact, we’ll probably find that the economy is accounting for the costs of these machines, same as it will be accounting for the cost for everything else. Transportation costs more, materials costs more, the American dollar is weak and most of these machines are manufactured offshore. Go us for managing to drive manufacturing jobs out of the country.

I pay close to 30% more for a loaf of bread now, and I don’t think the price change is based on a conspiracy among bread makers.

Jman594 says:

Re: Re: Myth Busting?

Goddamn Algore, your food is going into gas tanks. the consipiracy is with retarded enviro-mental-ists. bitch to them about it.

Manufacturing jobs left with NAFTA, a clinton fuckup. the root of all problems concerning money is the value of our dollar. find my other post about myth busting.

blu-ray prices went up and will continue to go up to try and re-coop some of the billion dollars that they spent assasinating HD-DVD. BD’s started selling about the same price as the HD-DVD’s did, around $20-25, and now they’re up to $35? Tell me who’s surprised. Sony can suck my balls.

Shelley (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Myth Busting?

Considering that most manufacturing jobs went to China, not sure why you’re blaming NAFTA.

Environmentalist do not support the current use of bioethanol. It has encouraged cutting down of forests in order to plant crops to support the industry, as well as drive up demand for corn, which is needed for food. In addition bioethanol production has a massive water requirement, making it doubly damaging to the environment.

Environmentalists support using less fuel by using more public transportation, or vehicles that get excellent milage.

As for the cost of blu-ray discs, that hasn’t changed. If anything, I am seeing cheaper blu-ray discs now than several months ago.

You know, all of this information is online. Most items related to blu-ray can be seen at Amazon, where you can also see that the demand for blu-ray players has outstripped the supply.

Jman594 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Myth Busting?

Environmentalist do not support the current use of bioethanol.

Then tell me, shelley, why the hell I am forced to put it in my gas tank. Considering that you can’t be an enviro-mental-ist without also being on the left (sterotype alert), it surley isn’t the right forcing this down our throats. And if that’s the case, then the enviro-mental-ists in fact ARE for using biofuels.

You seem to be part of the spectrum for preservation of the environment, what’s next? What will I be forced to buy, use, give up, or just plain let go? I am on board when it comes to biodegradable stuff, but, I am in no way shape or form sold on the fact that we can change the climate of this planet. I have no problem using coal or oil or nuclear or any thing else for that matter. Just let me buy my friggen lightbulbs for 25cents a piece.

China? Since when did they take any of our manufacturing jobs? the early 70’s when tech was first starting to blossom? The fact is that they have always held the market on cheap labor and high production. If it were my money that I was investing, I would manufacture over there too. Nobody can afford union wages. It is very difficult for those who can’t afford much to buy American. Whose fault is that?

Twinrova says:

Economy isn't to blame this time

Interesting blog as I’ve been watching other Blu-ray related news and it’s no surprise sales are slumping.

While most will blame the economy, the true source is the price of the DVDs themselves, being at $24.99 or higher. People are fed up with the prices, both purchases and rentals.

Netflix is about to increase its Blu-ray rental fee because, by their words, these DVDs cost more than standard DVDs and they can’t continue to offer the rentals at the current price.

This isn’t all surprising, as the moment the format war was over, many websites posted Blu-ray players with new higher prices. Both Circuit City and BestBuy raised a Samsung player I had my eyes on by $150.

Once again, I’ll point out that once consumers have no choice, they’re being screwed. Yes, I understand revenue needs to be made in order to cover the cost of development, but doing so at unnecessary inflated prices isn’t the answer.

As several pointed out, a PS3 (at $400) is the cheapest Blu-ray player out there, but how many consumers actually know this? Not many.

I have about 60 movies in my collection. These are the movies I can watch over and over without fear of them getting tiring. Chances are, I will never purchase a Blu-ray player nor any other form of entertainment.

I’m tired of the industry telling me how to enjoy their product.

Screw them all and let them rot in hell.

Gorkon says:

Not looking at all the factors.

Working in the home theater business I would have to point out that after CES the sales of Blu-Ray skyrocketed and the manufacturers were caught off guard. Sony hasn’t been able to meet demand since then. People don’t buy what they can’t take home. We have a call list about 40 people long for when we get a new shipment in, but when they come in with 3-5 players at a time, not many people get to buy.

rebrad says:

Blu-Ray

I have no intention of buying any hardware that requires it to report in to find out if it’s legitimate. My stand-alone DVD player works great and looks good on my 65″. If I want HD I could just as easily download it. There seem to be plenty of HD available on the internet that doesn’t require phoning home. More likely I’ll just wait until they are on one of the HD movie channels on DirecTV.

thecaptain says:

blueray slump

That’s not true at all. If the quality is different, it’s different. On my 1080p TV, with good cables, you can absolutely see a difference. We tested the theory by having friends and relatives over and 100% of the time they could tell whether the movie was 1080p or DVD. It’s a matter of more than double the resolution… it’s a big difference.

I agree with you, the quality IS different. People arguing about the quality are missing the point.

I consider myself typical to most right now. I’d love to upgrade to HD. The flatscreen prices have finally dropped enough for me to seriously look into it.

Verdict? Hell no.

For me to enjoy the “quality difference” I have to get a new TV (because on my albeit good quality CRT TV it won’t make any difference), I have to get a new set-top box (that’s another $500) and I have to get all sorts of cables and doodads (lets say another 100$). A blueray player (might as well buy a PS3) and get movies (29.99 to 49.99 in Canada these days). That’s a HUGE investment all of a sudden.

Forget about the stupid DRM issues which are important to ME but not to everyone, so I didn’t go into them.

Or, I can just enjoy what I have now, which is by no means bad and like someone above said, I can watch them in any tv in my house, rip them to my iPod if I want or whatever.

There’s ZERO advantage for me to spend that much to switch. The “higher quality image” isn’t worth emptying my bank account and shackling myself to one TV with draconian DRM.

I really hope some people from Sony or whatever are watching forums like these and get a clue…although I realize that its extremely unlikely.

Isti says:

A little but of clarity...if you get this far

I can see that this discussion is going off into a few other tangents but I wanted to comment on the original story. The study mentions that Blu-ray standalone player sales are down. This makes sense when compared to the graphs showing the prices of these units rising, which can be attributed to the disappearance of HD-DVD as a competitor.

So we know that standalone player sales are going down, but we also know that PS3 sales are generally increasing month to month. Sadly there is no way to know how many of those machines are being used for Blu-ray, exclusively or not. I think the only real indicator of this is media sales…it should makes sense that if people are buying PS3s for the purpose of watching Blu-ray movies that movie sales themselves have increased (but I admit this is hard to tell since more films being available generally means more sales overall).

As mentioned in this link http://www.hdtvuk.tv/2008/05/bluray_booming.html Blu-ray disc sales are steadily increasing, which indicates that some of those PS3 sales are going to movie watching. The article’s author is sadly trying to focus on a single aspect of performance to back his own beliefs, i.e. taking the context out of the overall view and claiming that “Despite Winning The HD Format War, Blu-Ray Sales Dropped” even though I could rewrite the article header to be “After winning the format war Blu-ray sales soar 351%”…but that wouldn’t be very accurate either, would it?

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