Shoppers Zapping Blu -Ray in Favour of Downloads

- Shoppers are failing to muster enthusiasm for highly-priced Blu-Ray players and discs according to reviews and sales figures collated by Reevoo.com

- Shoppers are failing to muster enthusiasm for highly -priced Blu -Ray players and discs according to reviews and sales figures collated by Reevoo.com


- Once -revolutionary format is losing the sitting room battle to HD download services and hard drives

After a disappointing sales performance at Christmas for Blu -ray, the HD disc format may be in trouble, according to Reevoo.com, the customer reviews website. Sales of Blu -ray players had been expected to increase rapidly after Blu -ray killed off HD DVD in February 2008 in the biggest format war since VHS killed Betamax. But over Christmas demand for DVD players outstripped Blu -ray players by a factor of 10, despite some Blu -Ray players selling for less than £100. Meanwhile, shoppers are turning to more convenient digital downloads and digital hard drive recorders. Reevoo customer data and reviews confirm that Blu -ray is waning in popularity as shoppers jump from DVD to downloads.

"We think this could be partly a convenience choice," said Samuel Bostock, Home Entertainment Manager at Reevoo.com. "The death of the VCR and the cassette saw the end of the chore of rewinding tapes. The convenience of downloads and wider availability of flexible digital content, suggests impatience with the eject button which may be partly why Blu -Ray isn't capturing the imagination."

Shoppers quickly discarded VHS in favour of DVD, yet Blu -ray's growth has been slow in comparison. According to Nielsen Media Research and Adams Media Research, the total high -definition software sales for the first two years were only half of what standard DVD's sales were for their first two years. There were 16.3 million standard DVDs sold in the first two years (1997 -1998) and there have been only 8.3 million high -definition (both Blu -Ray and HD DVD) units sold in their first two years (2006 -2007).

In November 2008, Sony announced that worldwide Blu -Ray player sales would fall short of expectations for the year. Sony cited the high price of discs as one factor that had curtailed early adoption of Blu -Ray.

Unlike previous format changes (e.g. audio tape to compact disc, VHS videotape to DVD), there is no immediate indication that production of the standard DVD will gradually wind down. It remains the entrenched dominant format. Some analysts suggest that the biggest obstacle to replacing DVD is its installed base; a large majority of consumers are satisfied with DVDs. The DVD had succeeded because it offered a compelling alternative to VHS.

Samuel Bostock said: "When DVD came in, you could almost see the video shelving shrink before your eyes in Blockbuster and HMV. The same hasn't happened with Blu -Ray."

Reevoo has identified three factors from customer feedback that are weighing against Blu -Ray:

1. Improved DVD players
DVD players are still outselling Blu -ray players by a factor of 10:1 according to Reevoo data. With a basic DVD player now costing just £20 (equivalent to the cost of a new release Blu -Ray disc alone), and newer high -end DVD players capable of 'upscaling' a standard definition image to near -HD, the gap between DVD and Blu -ray has shrunk to the point that shoppers see no reason to upgrade.

Customer reviews of DVD players:
"The DVD upscaling is OMG look at that! Smooth, super smooth."
"Excellent SD picture [and] great upscaling of my old DVD player made it hard to justify a [Blu -Ray player] to the missus."
"[I] watch DVDs through a up scaling DVD player and the picture is to die for"

2. Blu -ray pricing and inflated disc prices
Blu -ray prices remain high. Over 6 months, the average price of a Blu -ray player was £239, more than four times the average DVD player at £53, and has remained largely flat month -on -month, with a small increase in average price from July to January. Average DVD player prices have dropped by 20% from July to January. Blu -ray disc prices are also high, costing £16 -18 for a new release, compared to £10 -12 for a new release on DVD and an extensive back catalogue priced very cheaply.

Many reviews of Blu -ray players also mention frustrations with slow loading times and an inability to play certain file formats.

Customer reviews of Blu ray players:
"Slow to read the BluRay discs but is this a feature of BluRay?"
"Still a bit slow to load discs."
"Slow to read disks."
"Takes a long time to load (compared to DVD)."

3. Households are downloading
The window for Blu -ray to become the leading video format is closing rapidly. The format is also competing with downloads through services such as Apple's iTunes store which offers HD content for rental or purchase at a lower price than Blu -ray discs. The Government's Digital Britain report set out its aim of getting broadband into every home, providing on -tap access to HD content. Other services such as Sky+ and Sky Movies offer viewers access to HD films virtually on -demand. Hard -drive based personal video recorders (PVRs) sold twice as many units as Blu -ray in the UK over Christmas according to Reevoo data.

Reviews collected by Reevoo.com show that many customers are happy to skip Blu -ray altogether when they upgrade, instead going straight to a combination of downloads and hard drives:

"[My PVR] gives a fantastic picture, when in the HD channels the picture is as good if not better than my Blu ray player."

"Easy set up. Seems to work well. Great Picture in HD. Good value [] Not just Great Picture quality, but Dolby Digital surround sound as well."

"Excellent, cheap upgrade to HD television, especially if you have a Sky dish already installed - just plug it in, in place of your Sky box and use. Upscales SD tv to 576p/720i/720p/1080i."

Top 5 most popular Blu -ray players:
1. Sony BDP -S350
2. Samsung BD P1500
3. Panasonic DMPBD35
4. Logik DV -BD1000
5. Sony BDP -S550

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