The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) released their first quarter report for 2012, and what stands out is that Blu-ray disc sales continue to be strong, despite predictions that discs will become obsolete in the near future. Consumers still like them, and that means consumers will get them. Blu-ray disc sales are up 23 percent over the first quarter in 2011. Blu-rays now account for 1 in 4 of "sell-through" dollars spent by consumers, or 25 percent. That's more than a 10 percent increase over last year.
It's no surprise, then that the number of homes that are Blu-ray capable has increased. No comparison figures are offered, but the 2.4 million Blu-ray players sold in the first quarter of 2012 brings the total of Blu-ray homes to 40.8 million. What's more, 6.5 million HDTVs were sold during the first quarter of 2012. Of course, some of those can be additional HDTVs for multi-TV households, or upgrades for households already HD- and Blu-ray capable, so you have to take the figures with a shaker of salt.
But here's a surprise, given the way the public seems to have rejected BD-Live: With many studios backing UltraViolet Digital Copies, consumers seem to be buying into the concept, because the first quarter report indicates that nearlty two million consumers have opened UltraViolet accounts to access movies "in the cloud." That's a rosier picture than Disney paints, according to an article by Erik Gruenwedel that reports the House of Mouse is taking a "wait and see" approach to cloud-based UV Digital copies because the initial industry efforts to introduce UV Digital Copies hasn't been as "robust" or "consumer friendly as we had hoped."
So how are VOD and electronic sell-through or Digital on Demand doing? VOD sales have increased close to 7 percent over the first quarter last year—a modest increase—but surprisingly electronic sell-through of movie titles, disc-less sales, have increased a whopping 17.4 percent. That's something I wouldn't have guessed.
Finally, the total U.S. home entertainment spending is up a modest 2.5 percent.
So it sounds, overall, that the whole industry is going to be taking a wait-and-see approach so that missteps don't result in losses.