Port Washington, N.Y. — First-quarter U.S. sales of stand-alone Blu-ray Disc (BD) players increased 72 percent over the same period in 2008, according to the March update of The NPD Group's retail tracking report.
NPD’s point-of-sale retail tracking data showed that U.S. stand-alone BD players (not including PlayStation3) sales surpassed 400,000 units in the period, as dollar sales increased 14 percent to $107.2 million.
The March update to the Blu-ray Report also showed that overall U.S. consumer awareness of the BD format
hit the 90 percent mark in the past six months.
"The rising penetration of high-definition televisions and lower Blu-ray player prices are broadening the format's market opportunity," stated Ross Rubin, industry analysis director at NPD. "Even as options expand for accessing movies digitally, Blu-ray is carrying forward the widespread appeal of DVD into the high-definition marketplace."
NPD said purchase intent for Blu-ray set-top boxes also rose slightly in recent tracking surveys, with 6 percent of respondents saying they would be "extremely or very likely" to buy in the next six months, compared with 5 percent who responded similarly in the August report.
Still, NPD said if found signs that more format promotion may be necessary to sustain demand.
“Despite these high awareness levels, more than half of adults (58 percent) continue to report that they were still not very familiar with BD,” NPD said.
As format penetration deepens, consumer motivators are beginning to change, NPD said.
“While consumers who purchased BD players when they first came to market were primarily concerned with having the latest technology, and not much concern about the higher price tag, recent BD player buyers report being influenced most often by pricing, promotions, and sales,” NPD said.
As a result actual prices and consumer expectations are increasingly in alignment.
The study said the reason cited most often by consumers who are not interested in purchasing a BD player at this time was that “their current DVD player is good enough, they feel the cost of hardware or software is an issue, or they simply aren't interested in the product.”
The average selling price of a stand-alone BD player fell nearly 34 percent from $393 dollars in Q1 2008 to $261 in Q1 2009, the report shows.
Consumers who claimed that they are likely to buy in the next six months expect to pay $214 on average, NPD said.
“The leading driver of Blu-ray purchase intent is recommendations from friends, family or co-workers," said NPD's entertainment industry analyst, Russ Crupnick. “Blu-ray's superiority used to be difficult for many consumers to grasp, but when friends rave about it, or demonstrate Blu-ray in their homes, they are selling the benefits in a way that is far more effective than simply viewing an advertisement or seeing it demonstrated at a retail store.”
Data for NPD's Blu-ray Report was collected between Feb. 25 and March 6 via an online survey of 6,994 consumers. Final data for the nationally representative sample was weighted to represent the U.S. population of individuals age 18 and older. All findings are statistically tested at the 95 percent confidence level, NPD said.