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A Snapshot of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray - 80k players, 88 titles, 1 million discs sold

Posted on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 2:14 PM

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Cover ArtworkA couple of media sites are reporting on the recent data coming out about the state of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format:

CEPro - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Format Gains Steam, Gets Marketing Push

Supporters of the Ultra HD Blu-ray format say they’re not feeling blue at all. The format made substantial progress since its March 2016 retail launch, driven by thriving sales of Ultra HD 4K TV sales, a growing selection of players and discs, wider distribution, and the greater reliability of a physical 4K format over 4K streaming, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) contends.

In a status report on the format, the association forecasts further gains next year when it expects more hardware companies to enter the market, thanks to more widely available signal-processing chipsets that CE suppliers can use in lieu of creating their own chipsets.


Sales Hit $25M; 90 Titles Available

Hardware sales are exceeding expectations, the BDA said, with Futuresource forecasting 700,000 unit sales in the U.S. in 2016, excluding Xbox game consoles launched recently with 4K disc playback. U.S. sales will account for 44 percent of global demand in 2016, Futuresource said. The research company told CE Pro that it raised its 2016 forecast based on first-half sales.

Players starting at $249 are available through Amazon, B&H, Best Buy, Crutchfield, Kmart, Newegg, Sears, Target, Video and Audio Center, and others. Six players are available in the U.S., including three Microsoft Xbox One S SKUs and one player each from Samsung, Philips, and Panasonic, with Sony’s first model due in the spring.

With new players coming in, supply has caught up with demand, says Dan Schinasi, Samsung product planning director and chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association’s U.S. promotions committee.

Discs are available in the U.S. from six of the seven major studios: Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner. Almost 90 titles were available in the U.S. as of Oct. 2 on the way to more than 100 by year’s end, as promised by studios during January’s CES.

All told, U.S. consumers have spent about $25 million to buy discs so far this year through mid-October, the BDA notes.

The Digital Bits - Citizen Kane: 75th, Magnificent Seven, Tim’s Scream for a Week & a 4K Ultra HD format update

Also today, I mentioned that I spent some time up at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment last week talking with some of the people working on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, and I’ve learned a few interesting things. First of all, more than 80,000 stand-alone 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players have been sold here in the States in the 9 months since the format first launched. Nearly 90 titles are now available, with that number expected push well past 100 by Christmas. More critically, the 1 millionth 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc has just sold at retail here in the States, representing more than $25 million in consumer spending. And shipments of 4K Ultra HDTVs have increased by more than 80% this year, which means that by the end of the year the displays will be installed in some 16% of US households (a number that’s expected to increase to 35% by 2019). What does all this mean? Well, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format is actually well ahead of the adoption curve of regular Blu-ray in the first 9 months of its launch – probably not surprising as there’s no format war for consumers to contend with this time. I’ve also learned – separately, I might add, from other industry sources – that the final remaining holdout studio, Disney, is quietly preparing to begin releasing titles on the format in 2017. I’ll post more on that as I’m able.

One message that you can rest assured I passed on to the powers that be, is the need for all of the studio to release a better slate of A and B-list catalog titles on the format – titles that people really actually want to buy, and that would be attractive in 4K with HDR. While I’m sure that Sausage Party, Pineapple Express, and The 5th Wave have their fans, no one actually wants to own them on 4K.

In any case, it does seem that consumers are responding well to 4K and that the format has a bright future. At the very least, I’m told that there’s pleasant surprise at all of the major Hollywood supporting studios at how strongly consumers have embraced the format thus far.

80,000 players sold since February, especially when the only player available for about half that time was the $400 (MSRP) Samsung UBD-K8500 (a good first effort, but still a 1st-gen device). It's just now in the past month or two that discounting has begun, where you can get one for about $250.

While many people would love to see every movie ever made, but especially their favorite movies, on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, that's not a realistic view, especially if one remembers the introduction of DVD and Blu-ray. 88 titles and counting is pretty good for a new format that's only nine months old. The news that Disney is planning releases in 2017 is good, and hopefully, that comes to fruition. Full studio support is a vote of confidence, no matter what anyone thinks of the movies that are released.

I think a lot of this success has to do with the fact that it's quite difficult to buy a non-4K TV. The recognition of "4K" is pretty high, so when someone sees a 4K Blu-ray player, there's not much education needed to get them to consider a purchase.

Relating this back to the theatrical movie industry, I hope that 4K's success in the home video market will translate into more movies being post-produced in 4K. That would add value to the theaters that invest in 4K projection, and it adds value to the home video release as it won't have the spectre of "oh, it's fake 4K" to turn some people off.

This format is in its infancy, but I think it's doing quite well. It's good to see a physical format seeing some success in the face of the "everyone who's anyone streams movies" myth.

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