Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Big Picture Big Sound crew sat down with Pioneer's Andy Parsons, spokesman for the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), to get the skinny on all things Blu-ray. Not surprisingly, Blu-ray Disc had a heck of a good year in 2011 - in fact, it may surprise you just how well the shiny, high def disc is doing.
On the hardware front, there are now more than 36 million U.S. housholds in possession of a Blu-ray Disc player of some kind, be it a PS3 or standalone player (source: IHS Screen Digest). To put that in perspective, that's roughly one third of all U.S. households. That level of household penetration represents an increase of nearly 40% over 2010. As a point of reference, nearly 75 million households currently own an HDTV (Futuresource). And as any self-respecting HDTV owner can tell you, once you start watching your movies and TV in high definition, DVD just doesn't cut it.
As for Blu-ray software, unit sales grew by more than one third in 2011 (IHS Screen Digest), with Blu-ray accounting for more than 40% of disc sales for the top 10 titles released in 2011. This is compared to 27% of top 10 disc sales in 2010. This was no doubt helped by the fact that for the first time ever, consumer spending on software passed the $2 billion mark in 2010 (Digital Entertainment Group).
Surely a contributing factor to the huge year Blu-ray had was the avalanche of top shelf titles on store shelves: blockbusters like Bridesmaids and Transformers: Dark of the Moon; award winners like The King's Speech; animated family fare such as Tangled and Rio; and not one but two Harry Potter films made their way to the high definition format in 2011.
Last but not least, we would be remiss if we didn't at least mention the third dimension. According to the BDA, the initial 3D TV adoption rate is exceeding that of HDTV, and 3D software title sales increased tenfold over 2010. In 2011, the number of available Blu-ray 3D titles increased to 89, up from only 31 in 2010. It was also pointed out - and we've certainly seen plenty of evidence to support this - by 2013, it's expected that virtually all Blu-ray players will be 3D capable. Futuresource is further predicting that by 2014, over half of all TVs sold will be 3D capable. Whether you like it or not, and if it's not there already, 3D is coming soon to your living room - even if you never turn on the feature.
In the end, it all boils down to the fact that Blu-ray Disc had its best year on record in 2011. And with entry level player prices now well below $100, and a steady stream of new releases and catalog titles expected this year (Jaws, anyone?), 2012 is apt to be another record-breaking year for Blu-ray.
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