Blu-ray sales outside the U.S. a disappointment

A new report from Screen Digest indicates the high-definition Blu-ray Disc video format has struggled to gain marketshare outside of the United States, even with the worldwide popularity of Avatar.

Important European markets, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have reported lower than expected Blu-ray player and movie sales.  Assuming a customer purchases a Blu-ray player, a disappointing average of just 1.5 Blu-ray movies are purchased per year by owners.

Blu-ray sales outside the U.S. a disappointment

The lack of sales are due to down economies and higher prices of Blu-ray goods, as there hasn’t been much work done to help lower the price of players or movies.  Furthermore, the picture quality of DVDs is still considered “good enough” for most EU viewers.

Screen Digest believes DVD and Blu-ray sales will drop 3.5% each year through 2015.  Streaming content continues to grow in popularity, with set-top boxes, game consoles, and some HDTVs already supporting streaming functionality.

Avatar has led to a drastic increase in Blu-ray interest in the U.S. — which has since returned to normal — but the Blu-ray Avatar version costs significantly more than the DVD version.

In the U.S., manufacturers, movie studios and retailers have drastically reduced Blu-ray prices in an effort to get consumers to upgrade from DVD.  It’s possible to find numerous standalone Blu-ray players for $149 and less — and that price tag continues to fall.  Warner Bros. also has a DVD to Blu-ray upgrade program, helping DVD enthusiasts switch to the high def format. Analysts believe DVD sales will decline further in North America in the coming years.

The top motivation for purchasing a Sony PlayStation 3 is still the Blu-ray feature, which could be a boon for the Blu-ray industry as more and more users purchase the Sony game console.

I wonder if manufacturers will try to slash prices and launch a marketing push in Europe, or shift focus away from the struggling region.  Blu-ray market penetration is growing in the United States, and another strong marketing push could be beneficial.