Blu-ray sales show lead over rival

The outlook for Microsoft, Toshiba and the other companies promoting HD-DVD technology worsened on Monday as new figures showed that Blu-ray had opened up a decisive lead over the rival home entertainment format.

The Consumer Electronics Show this week has been buzzing with talk about the next move for the HD-DVD camp, following Warner Brothers’ decision to throw its weight behind Sony’s Blu-ray technology.

The Warner move means Blu-ray can claim support from studios representing 70 per cent of Hollywood output. But the Blu-ray Disc Association said sales figures showed the HD-DVD camp had been in serious trouble even before the Warner move.

Blu-ray players, such as Sony’s PlayStation 3 device, outsold HD-DVD players by a ratio of three to one in the US, according to data compiled by Home Media Research. In Europe, the ratio was 10 to one in Blu-ray’s favour and in Japan the ratio was 100 to one.

Blu-ray discs also outsold HD-DVDs in 2007. Sales of the Blu-ray edition of “300”, the best-selling high-definition title to date, have outpaced sales of the HD-DVD version by two to one.

Blu-ray discs also accounted for 70 per cent of all US high-definition disc sales in November, a month which saw prices of HD-DVD players slashed in a bid to boost interest in the format.

Andy Parsons, chairman of the US promotions group for the Blu-ray Disc Association, said: “Results are now in for 2007 and show that Blu-ray was the overwhelming choice by every objective measure we can find.”

Hollywood studios are keen for a single format to emerge as the natural successor to the DVD.

Although DVDs continue to represent a highly lucrative revenue stream for Hollywood, figures released on Monday in Las Vegas show that sales fell for the first time in 2007.

Total sales and rentals of DVDs were $23.7bn, about 3 per cent less than the 2006 figure, according to the Digital Entertainment Group. Although income from DVD rentals in 2007 was broadly comparable with 2006, revenues from DVD sales fell by about $600m.

There are several possible explanations for the decline. Consumers have built vast DVD libraries and have grown weary of adding to them while economic factors have also been blamed.

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