Blu-ray Adoption Still Sluggish, HDTV Sales Up

It's a tough time for Blu-ray to be really hitting its stride. Many consumers are still wary due to the battle with HD-DVD, and frankly, many are still content with DVD. In too many cases, upscaled DVD looks "good enough" for consumers, and only those with oodles of disposable income are willing to fork out for Blu-ray. Blu-ray player prices are still relatively high, and the actual movies are way expensive compared to the same titles on DVD. Plus, the install base of DVD is so high, it's tough for many to start building another movie library on another format.

Those reasons and more are what is keeping the interest in Blu-ray rather low according to a new study by Harris Interactive. Currently, 11% of Americans own an HD-DVD player, while just 7% own a Blu-ray player. Crazy, right? More Americans own HD-DVD right now than the "winning" format, Blu-ray. To be totally honest, we aren't so shocked by the news. When HD-DVD was around, it was far and away the "budget" format for high-def. The players were cheaper, the films were cheaper. In other words, it was a format more ready to thrive in a down economy. Blu-ray was always viewed as a niche format for those absorbed in A/V, not the common man's format.

Today, BD is still fighting that stereotype, but the prices aren't helping it win many folks over. Of course, many folks own a Blu-ray player in that their PS3 will play them, but people are still not jumping to join the BD bandwagon. The lag in adoption can't totally be blamed on the economy, though. During this same time period, HDTV ownership is up. In the survey, nearly half of respondents stated that they own an HDTV, which goes to show that HDTV ownership isn't necessarily a prerequisite for Blu-ray adoption. With HDTV stations becoming more and more the norm, many folks are spending their TV watching time on high-def programs, not Blu-ray. Compared to May of 2008, some 12% more people own HDTVs.

The survey also found that on average, consumers purchased approximately 6 Standard Format DVD’s in the last six months compared with 1 in HD format (HD-DVD .7 vs. Blu-ray .5). Take a look at these PS3-specific findings below to put an even clearer spin on things:

Source:  Harris Interactive

When Blu-ray player or PS3 owners are asked specifically about standard versus Blu-ray format purchases, the results suggest a mixed bag of behaviors with some price sensitivity indicated:

  • Only one quarter plan to switch to Blu-ray completely (25%), while one third of Blu-ray or PS3 owners claim that most of their movie purchases are now on Blu-ray format (32%);
  • Two in five are waiting for Blu-ray format prices to come down before they buy more (43%) – and a quarter buy Blu-ray regardless of price (25%); and,
  • Only 1 in 5 appear to be replacing or duplicating their existing standard format DVD library with Blu-ray format (21%), and over a third say they only buy movies on Blu-ray format that they currently do not own on standard definition (37%).

All told, we still see Blu-ray adoption a long ways from taking off. The economy isn't helping matters, and Blu-ray just doesn't provide a good enough incentive to convince users to switch from DVD. We'll ask you: have you switched to Blu-ray? Are you holding off? Do you think DVD is "good enough?"