The Blu-ray disc format is five years old now and in spite of
streaming "threat," the latest sales figures released by the industry
organization Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) indicate that the
format is actually doing well.
Blu-ray Disc playback devices -including set-top box and game
consoles -sold through more than 28.5 million units since launch,
according to data released by DEG at CES 2011. Some six million
devices sold in the fourth quarter alone, bringing total units sold
to 11.25 million in calendar 2010, according to numbers compiled by
the DEG with input from retail tracking sources.
In addition and according to figures compiled by Swicker & Associates
on behalf of the DEG, in calendar 2010, more than 170 million Blu-ray
Discs shipped to market. In the fourth quarter, some 73 million discs
shipped to retail. Since launch, nearly 350 million Blu-ray Discs
have shipped. In the fourth quarter, nearly 343 million DVDs shipped
to retail. More than one billion DVD units shipped throughout 2010
and more than 12.5 billion discs have shipped since the DVD format
launched in 1997, DEG said.
In addition, an estimated 20.2 million DVD players were sold to U.S.
consumers in 2010, according to figures compiled by the DEG based on
data from Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) retailers and
manufacturers. Since launch in spring 1997, some 297 million DVD
players, including set-top and portable DVD players,
Home-Theater-in-a-Box systems, TV/DVD and DVD/VCR combination
players, have sold to consumers, bringing the number of DVD
households to approximately 90 million (adjusting for households with
more than one player). The DEG estimates that 70 percent of DVD
owners have more than one player.
The 2010 home entertainment market continued to be bolstered by the
steady growth of Blu-ray as total U.S. home entertainment spending
hit $18.8 billion to close the year. Blu-ray software sales rose 68
percent in 2010, while consumer spending on digital distribution grew
19 percent, making a notable contribution to the overall home
entertainment mix, according to DEG.
With input from all major motion picture studios, consumer
electronics manufacturers, IT companies and tracking sources, DEG
said that while overall consumer spending was down 3.3 percent for
the year, Blu-ray continued its remarkable growth, with software
sales of $1.8 billion. On the rental front, despite challenging
market conditions, Blu-ray was up 34 percent in brick and mortar
outlets. The DEG estimates that the number of Blu-ray playback
devices in U.S. households soared to 27.5 million in 2010, up 62
"We continued to see strong growth in Blu-ray and significant gains
in digital distribution this year, despite a tough economy," said Ron
Sanders, President, DEG and President, Warner Home Video. "We also
saw a slight increase in consumer transactions, which is a clear
indication that consumer demand for home entertainment remains
Commenting on DEG's figures, Blu-ray Disc Association president Andy
Parsons notes that Blu-ray is doing better than DVD before it. "If
you look at the adoption rate of the market we could sell into,
almost everyone could buy a DVD, be it a PlayStation 2 or standalone
DVD, because everyone had an SDTV," says Parsons. "Blu-ray was
selling the same number of units as DVDs, but it was doing so into
less than half the market size, because not everyone had an HDTV yet.
So that really means the adoption rate has picked up much faster than
The addition of streaming services-everything from Netflix to Vudu,
Pandora, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and beyond to Blu-ray players has
also helped the establishment of Blu-ray's position in the living
room. However, can Blu-ray continue its growth when faced with the
threat posed by the convenience of the same streaming services? The
answer is not easy. For sure, as long as the content HD streaming
experience depends on - not always high bandwidth - internet
connections and there is prospect of tiered pricing and bandwidth
throttling from Internet service providers, Blu-ray remains the best
high-definition audio-visual experience in the home.
Regarding the Blu-ray disc format as an optical medium, it has not
managed to become an essential element of the PC and laptop products.
Most currently available high-end notebooks and PCs come with Blu-ray
readers and not BD burners.
ULTRAVIOLET Design completed - Managed Copy becomes
At CES 2011, Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), unveiled
a roadmap for introducing UltraViolet content, services and devices
to consumers. Available in mid-2011, UltraViolet will most probably
put aside BDA's plans to make the much-talked-about "Managed copy"
feature available to Blu-ray disc releases. Managed Copy would have
allowed digital copies and rights management using the Advanced
Access Content System (AACS) DRM used by Blu-ray.
Six studios partnering on UltraViolet, which will allow consumers to
purchase digital content and watch it wherever, whenever. According
to DECE, consumers who purchase UltraViolet entertainment will have
an easy way to watch film and television content across multiple
branded platforms, such as computers, connected TVs, game consoles,
smartphones and tablets. The UltraViolet name and logo will help
identify content, devices and services from a spectrum of familiar
entities ? including studios, retailers, consumer electronics
manufacturers, cable companies, ISPs and other service providers
that will work together.
Through the UltraViolet Account system, each household will be able
to create an account for up to six members who can access the
household?s UltraViolet movies, TV and other entertainment via
participating retailers, streaming providers and devices. Consumers
will also be able to register up to 12 devices so UltraViolet content
can be downloaded to those devices, or shared among them. In
addition to these UltraViolet devices, UltraViolet streaming access
will enable consumers to access their collections via set-top boxes
and most places they can access the web, via computers, web-connected
home video devices such as Blu-ray players and Internet TVs, and
mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. Also, the UltraViolet
Account will enable retailers to provide consumers with a copy to use
on DVD players or other physical media, such as portable flash
Beginning in mid-2011, DECE Member companies and other UltraViolet
licensees are expected to introduce UltraViolet products and
services. Initial offerings will gradually expand to include a slate
of UltraViolet titles from studios for purchase through retailers,
either electronically or as digital copies included with Blu-ray Disc
or DVD purchases. Initially, UltraViolet retailers will enable
consumers to use downloaded copies on many devices they already own.
Additionally, initial streaming services will allow consumers to
access their UltraViolet collections via websites or linked devices,
like set-top boxes, Internet-connected Blu-ray Disc players,
smartphones and tablets.
Later in 2011, UltraViolet-optimized media player apps will begin to
roll out via software updates to PCs, game consoles and smart mobile
devices that consumers already own, as well as on new devices for
sale. In early 2012, the first designed-for-UltraViolet consumer
electronics devices are expected to become available. These devices
will be immediately compatible with UltraViolet; potential offerings
include connected Blu-ray Disc players, set-top boxes, Internet TVs
and other devices.