Blu-ray's market share has almost doubled since HD DVD's demise

Packaged media sales go up and down every week depending on the titles -- as documented by our weekly VideoScan post -- but for some reason, the 13 percent drop in Blu-ray sales last week got a lot of attention. What we can't figure out is why the 30 percent increases during the two weeks before (combined) went unnoticed. It boggles the mind why so many so-called tech evangelists only pick up on the bad weeks, but either way, let's go back and take a look at the facts since HD DVD called it quits about seven months ago.

Nielsen Media Research didn't start publishing Blu-ray vs DVD market share information until about about a month after HD DVD called it quits, so we'll start there. There are two ways to approach this, one is to look at overall market share, which for many reasons is tough to draw a fair comparison. For starters, the number of DVD titles available far outnumbers the Blu-ray titles, and more importantly, the demographic of early adopters is much more focused. So on weeks where Baby Mama and High School Musical were the hottest sellers on DVD, Blu-ray isn't going to do as well as compared to a week where I Am Legend or Transformers his the streets. To try to balance this, HMM only compares the VideoScan data from the top 20 of both formats, but while this compensates for the diverse difference in the size of the catalogs, it does nothing for the more limited demographic. So to try to get a better grasp on how well Blu-ray is doing, we also like to look at the market share of individual titles sold on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, Home Media Magazine doesn't always share this information, in fact the first month we ever saw it was in May -- a week when Blu-ray sales were up 54 percent, by the way.

Lets start with Blu-ray market share, and for a second we'll ignore the reasons why it isn't a fair comparison (as outlined above). The very first week the data was made public, the share was 6 percent, or about 2 percent lower than it was last week. So even if you ignore everything else, there is still a pitiful 2 percent increase over six months. But numbers don't tell the whole story because the week of March 23rd was the week I Am Legend was released. This title outsold every other Blu-ray title by almost five to one at the time, and broke every record we had seen to date. So it isn't too much of a stretch to guess that market share was doubled that week when compared to the week before. So comparing the current week with this one is like picking the lowest number of the month and comparing it to the highest; any way you shake it, it's not a fair comparison. Although it isn't much better, lets compare it to the week of September 7th, when Transformers (an old hat to HD DVD and DVD) was released on Blu-ray. This week Blu-ray's market share was 12 percent, this puts the share at double what it was that same week of March 23rd we used earlier.

Let's move on to something more tangible and look at the individual market share of a Blu-ray titles vs DVD. Here are the top selling Blu-ray day-and-date titles for the past four months -- since HMM started publishing the information -- and their market share against DVD.

Looking over this list, it's nearly impossible to see much of a pattern, but one thing is for sure: Blu-ray market share per title is not down, and totally dependent on how popular the title was to the Blu-ray demographic. If you were to go back and look for day-and-date titles that didn't sell as well on Blu-ray, you'd see that some titles like Baby Mama only managed 2 percent. As we move into the holiday season and collect more and more data, we should finally start to see some trends, but just based on these number we just can't, yet. Either way, when movies like the Forbidden Kingdom and TV shows like Terminator are stealing double digits away from DVD, sales are not down. But hey, predicting the end of Blu-ray is just so much more fun than actually analyzing all the data, isn't it? Ah well, we'll let the haters hate -- meanwhile, we'll continue to enjoy the highest quality hi-def around.

- Ars Technica
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