After Avatar, Blu-ray interest back to normal

The spike in Blu-ray interest brought on by the blockbuster film Avatar appears to be fleeting, as Blu-ray revenue share has dropped back down to typical levels.

According to data from Nielsen Videoscan, and reported by TV Technology, Blu-ray sales accounted for 22 percent of all disc-based home media revenue during the week of Avatar’s release on Blu-ray, higher than any week in the last year. But a week later — the week ending May 2 — Blu-ray’s share was down to 15 percent, which is on the high side but not out of the ordinary.

Both Blu-ray and DVD enjoyed above-average sales after Avatar’s home debut. Blu-ray, in particular, had a shining moment, beating the Dark Knight for the one-day sales record. Total weekly Blu-ray revenue, however, never came close to what you see during the holiday season, likely due to the large number of Blu-ray titles and extra shopping going on around that time.

More importantly, Blu-ray doesn’t seem to have stuck in terms of revenue share. So did all the Blu-ray owners came out of the woodwork to buy Avatar, or did they merely go back to watching DVDs on their Blu-ray players for films that don’t justify the extra expense?

I’m inclined to think it’s the latter, based on what we’ve seen in the television-on-disc market. Last year, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video scaled back their Blu-ray television offerings due to poor sales. Purchases of television series on Blu-ray were far below average, but the exception was action shows such as Lost, which tend to be more theatric. At the time, it was also noted that blockbuster films perform better on Blu-ray than most movies.

This presents a problem for the Blu-ray format. Consumers are unwilling to move completely to Blu-ray due to the added expense, so unless Hollywood brings down the price of Blu-ray discs to match DVD (or decides to produce only action flicks with high visual fidelity), DVD will always have a place.