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Blu-Ray Video Discs Starting to Mainstream

Consumers will buy in excess of 100 million Blu-ray discs (BD) across the USA, Western Europe and Japan this year, with reductions in BD player prices continuing to fuel interest in packaged HD video content, according to the latest study by Futuresource Consulting.

"In the USA, BD has moved from early adopter phase through to early majority, with the format gaining real traction in the marketplace," says Mai Hoang, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting.

Last year in the U.S. alone, BD video retail sales increased by 320 percent to 24 million units -- and momentum will continue in 2009, with over 80 million disc sales forecast.

Although the uptake of BD in Western Europe is still at the early adopter stage, it continues to gather momentum. Consumer video retail sales reached nine million units last year, and further healthy growth is expected in 2009.

The UK is the largest market for BD in Western Europe. With sales of more than 3.5 million units in 2008, it represented over 40 percent of the West European total. BD also benefited from a number of UK television campaigns during the critical fourth quarter of 2008, considerably raising consumer awareness.

Factor in Sky's high profile approach to marketing its HD service, and to a lesser extent Freesat, and the cumulative effect has made a substantial impact upon the marketplace.

"Although 36 million Blu-ray video discs were sold worldwide last year, more than 200 million were manufactured," says Michael Boreham, Senior Consultant at Futuresource.

"A portion of the remaining discs can be accounted for by multi-disc titles and promo campaigns -- cover mounts are already starting to emerge and we're projecting much more activity over the next few years."

However, the majority is pipeline fill, where product is placed into the supply chain in readiness for the growth in hardware sales, and to enable the retailers to build their in-store displays.

BD disc sales continue to expand into all major markets and genres, although to date the business has gravitated towards new release titles. In particular, the action adventure genre dominates, appealing strongly to the young male technology adopter, which also closely matches the PS3 gaming console owner profile.

For some high profile titles, close to 25 percent of all disc sales have been on BD, while other action adventure titles consistently see BD accounting for over 15 percent of total sales.

With more than 1100 BD titles to choose from, combined with growing retail support and increased promotional activity, the rise of Blu-ray may offset rapidly declining sales of standard DVD product. By 2012, around 50 percent of U.S. and 35 percent of Western European video disc retail sale volumes will be Blu-ray.

Although movie downloads are making advances in the marketplace, mainstream adoption will be a more gradual process, with the projections showing that 12 percent of U.S. consumer expenditure on home video will originate from online in 2012, with a slightly lower proportion in Europe.

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