February Disc Sales: Blu-ray Continues to Outsell HD DVD; 'Departed' Offers Head-to-Head Sales Comparison

Posted Fri Mar 9, 2007 at 03:43 PM PST by

February again saw Blu-ray disc sales outnumber HD DVD by a wide margin, but a performance comparison of the month's top-selling disc may be the bigger story.

For the second month in a row, Blu-ray disc sales exceeded those of HD DVD by 2:1, with trade magazine Video Business today citing industry sources as saying a total of 250,000 Blu-ray movies were sold in February, versus an estimated 125,000 HD DVD movies in the same timeframe.

Perhaps more interesting, though, are the per-format sales for the month's top selling disc on both formats, Warner's 'The Departed.' Again according to numbers published by Video Business, in its first week of release, 'The Departed' sold 20,000 units on Blu-ray versus 13,000 on HD DVD.

These numbers would appear to contradict the widely-floated theory that Blu-ray's sales ascension is a direct result of the larger number of Blu-ray discs released since the first of the year (by our count, there were 55 Blu-ray releases in first eight weeks of the year, compared to 23 HD DVD releases in the same period).

While 20,000 vs 13,000 isn't a 2:1 margin, it does seem to suggest that Blu-ray's lead can be attributed to more than just that format's fatter release slate.

To be fair, 'The Departed' isn't the perfect apples-to-apples case study, as the HD DVD edition of the disc is an HD DVD/Standrd-Def DVD combo, making it five dollars more expensive than its Blu-ray counterpart.

Sony VP Rich Marty told Video Business that he expected the gap between Blu-ray and HD DVD to further widen in March, helped by next week's release of the highly anticipated 'Casino Royale,' which (like all Sony titles) will be released on Blu-ray only.

Universal VP Ken Graffeo cautioned against drawing long-term conclusions based on recent sales data, saying "You can’t look at the last two months as a trend or as what the consumer wants to do in this format... It’s really an artificial, short time period."

Graffeo went on to suggest that Blu-ray numbers are getting a boost from two-for-one specials offered by some retailers, pointing out Amazon's Blu-ray sale, offering 50% off select Blu-ray discs.

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Tags: Industry Trends, Disc Sales (all tags)