No more Blu-ray for some TV shows

Studios are scaling back their catalog of television seasons that are available on Blu-ray, instead offering the shows on DVD only.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video are among the studios retreating to DVD, according to Video Business. Sony’s Rescue Me and Damages and Warner’s Nip/Tuck will no longer be offered on Blu-ray, even though the format was available for previous seasons.

The reason is simple: Blu-ray versions just aren’t selling. Compared to movies, where the sales ratio ranges from 12 percent to 15 percent Blu-ray for average releases and 25 percent to 30 percent for blockbuster films, roughly 95 percent of TV show sales are in DVD format. The exception is often in the action genre, where one retailer said the fourth season of Lost sold 14 percent as Blu-ray.

LostBluRay

Stores and studios lay the blame squarely on the higher cost of Blu-ray discs. While new release films differ by roughly $5 between the DVD and Blu-ray versions, TV shows on Blu-ray can carry a $10 premium. Retailers note that Blu-ray television seasons perform best when their price matches the DVD version.

But I think there’s also an inherent and obvious distinction between a television show and a film, and for that matter between a mediocre film and a blockbuster one. Of course when both formats cost the same, the Blu-ray owner is going to pick up a Blu-ray disc, but if there’s any difference in price, the viewer’s going to opt for the DVD. There’s something more disposable, and therefore not worth the extra cost, about television. That Lost costs more on Blu-ray than DVD validates this theory, because it’s more like a film than an easily-digestible TV show.

The big picture here is that Blu-ray won’t take over for DVD until they level off on price, and even studios seem to be conceding that point.