Blu-ray dominates Christmas sales

Back before Thanksgiving I predicted that Blu-ray sales would suffer during the holiday season due to the high cost of both the player and HDTVs combined with the current economic recession, among other reasons. But after seeing the report from the British Video Association declaring Blu-ray sales have risen almost 400 percent for the 2008 holiday season over the same period of time last year, it is clear that I was wrong.

Across the whole holiday season 3.7 million Blu-ray units were sold in Britain, and that doesn't include sales of Sony's Playstation 3 console, which also plays Blu-ray movies. A large contributing factor to the rise in Blu-ray sales was the release of the movies The Dark Knight and Mama Mia on Blu-ray. The Dark Knight sold almost 300,000 copies in its first few weeks, becoming the fastest selling Blu-ray title to date. Mama Mia was no slouch either selling 5.1 million copies by year-end.

Of course, all of these sales are from the British market, so we will have to wait for U.S. sales numbers to see if the trend carried over here. But given the U.K. sales numbers, it is hard to predict anything other than similarly high sales here.

I still hold onto my claim that streaming video will overtake Blu-ray at some point. Streaming video is being brought even closer to the mass-market with the announcement that LG will be releasing a broadband HDTV which can stream video from Netflix without the need for a set-top box. But the recent sales numbers for Blu-ray this holiday season show that the HD format still has a lot of life in it. The shift to streaming video is still coming, it's just a long, long way off.

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Scott Nichols

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