Blu-ray Disc content market almost tripled in US in 2008

Sales and rentals of Blu-ray Disc content almost tripled in 2008 despite an overall downturn in the U.S. home entertainment market, said an industry group.

Sales and rentals of Blu-ray Disc content almost tripled in 2008 despite an overall downturn in the U.S. home entertainment market, an industry association reported at last week's Consumer Electronics Show.

The entire Blu-ray Disc market in the U.S. was worth US$750 million last year, up from $270 million in 2007, according to the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG). The overall U.S. consumer home entertainment rental and sell-through market fell 5 percent in value to $22.4 billion, the DEG said. Based on these figures Blu-ray Disc accounted for just over 3 percent of the market in 2008.

The Hollywood-based DEG is made up of many of the major optical disc player makers, retail outlets, movie studios and other content providers.

During the year Blu-ray Disc software shipments in the U.S. and Canada hit 63 million discs, up from 18 million in 2007 and a little over 1 million in 2006. To date 82 million Blu-ray Discs have been shipped in North America.

Blu-ray Disc player sales, including Sony's Blu-ray-based PlayStation 3, hit almost 10 million units of which 3 million were sold in the fourth quarter alone, said the DEG.

Sales of Blu-ray Disc hardware and software got off to a slow start due to a format battle with the Toshiba-backed HD DVD but that was settled early in 2008 setting the market up for considerable expansion last year. The end of analog TV broadcasting in most of the U.S. this February is providing additional incentive for people to go out and purchase high-definition televisions and that in turn should help Blu-ray Disc sales. Around 40 million U.S. households are estimated to have HDTV sets.

The 10-year old DVD format remains king.

Around 25 million DVD players were sold in 2008, said the DEG, taking penetration to 92 million U.S. households. But sales are cooling. The fourth quarter of 2008 was the first time since 2001 that sales have been under 10 million units.

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