4K UHD Blu-ray Discs Take Off: 8.4 Million to be Sold in 2017
Stephan Jukic – May 31, 2017
The 4K ultra HD Blu-ray disc format has become rather robustly and to some even surprisingly popular since its first introduction on the consumer market near the beginning of 2016. Buoyed in part by rapidly growing adoption of 4K televisions and growth in associated technologies like HDR, the still rather limited selection of 4K disc titles on sale today is selling briskly with predictions by the firm Futuresource Consulting that a total of 8.4 million units will be sold in 2017.
This of course represents only 4% of all Blu-ray disc sales worldwide and is a far cry from the sales figures for both HD Blu-ray and DVD disc formats at their peak but considering the still very limited number of titles available for the 4K HDR BD format, sales of this many units are quite robust indeed. For many consumers who own 4K TVs in areas without high-speed internet access, the medium is one of the few possible means of watching full-blown 4K movies with HDR integration without connectivity problems.
So far, approximately 150+ Ultra HD Blu-ray movie titles exist on the market with releases of them shared among a small handful of studios that include 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony and Warner Brothers. However, the Digital Entertainment Group is predicting that at least 250 titles will be available for purchase by consumers worldwide by the end of this year. Furthermore, since the 4K UHD Blu-ray format isn’t regionally locked in any way like HD Blu-ray is, buyers of discs anywhere can watch their movies from any 4K Blu-ray media player and 4K TV sold in the world as long as both have the correct HDMI connectivity and compression codec support standards (HDMI 2.0 and HEVC version H.265).
Related figures by the Consumer Technology Association indicate that about 10 million 4K TVs shipped out in 2016 with predictions by the same organization that 2017 shipments of 4K TVs will reach 30 million units worldwide. Along this, some 300,000 4K Blu-ray players of all types were shipped in 2016 alone and this figure will also grow enormously in 2017. All of these are factors which immensely help in moving adoption of 4K Blu-ray on the consumer home entertainment market.
The DEG also pointed to a very interesting trend for 4K Blu-ray adoption which sets the pace for this new content medium’s near future prospects: Specifically, that first-year sales data for 4K Blu-rays showed consumers embracing the format at a notably faster pace than was the case when HD Blu-rays and HD DVDs first came out several years ago.
On the other hand, the possibly even more revolutionary HDR content mastering aspect of 4K Blu-ray discs remains less known to many consumers according to Futuresource. HDR actually delivers an even more impressive visual improvement to digital content than 4K resolution itself, if viewed with the right kind of highly compatible full-HDR HDR 4K TV display. However, TV makers aren’t helping the adoption of HDR content due to their excessive labeling as “HDR-compatible” of TVs which don’t actually effectively display meaningful HDR color and contrast levels. For many consumers who buy these TVs and expect a superior viewing experience, this sort of labeling creates even more confusion with the format.
As Tristan Veale, a researcher at Futuresource states in the company’s research report:
“Consumers remain largely uneducated about the advantages of HDR and there is a risk of alienating them due to the recent trend of branding displays HDR compatible, ones which can receive an HDR content stream but cannot reproduce it. With this multi-stage introduction of UHD and associated picture improvements, clear information to the consumer is paramount,”
All 4K Blu-ray discs are however fully formatted for presentation of maximal high dynamic range color and contrast as long as they’re viewed on the right sort of premium 4K HDR TV display. The HDR10 standard is mandatory in production of 4K Blu-ray discs and many new releases will even start to include the even better Dolby Vision HDR format in their content.
As far as we’re concerned at 4K.com, all evidence points to HDR eventually becoming a nearly ubiquitous aspect of almost all future 4K content and TV displays as well. Given these two trends, consumer ignorance and uncertainties around buying into HDR as it stands today will fade quickly within the next couple of years.
Story by 4k.com