Resurgence of Blu-ray disc interest expected as 4K Ultra HD in discs gains traction into 2017
Stephan Jukic – November 7, 2015
Consumer spending on streaming and other electronic sell-through delivery mediums for 4K ultra HD and 1080p content have remained stable throughout 2015 and into the fourth quarter of 2015 according to numbers compiled and released by researchers at DEG (Digital Entertainment Group).
However, the same cannot be said for the home entertainment sector that deals with physical media like Blu-ray discs. According to observers, studios and other home entertainment players are anticipating a resurgence in this field of technology only as Blu-ray 4K discs emerge and even then we shouldn’t expect serious gains to be visible until early 2017.
In the latest findings, consumers spent about $3.97 billion on home entertainment in the third quarter of 2015 alone, for which figures are already available. This is an increase of less than a quarter of a percentage point from the same timeframe in 2014. Furthermore, the box office value of home video releases during this period has actually dropped by 13% from the same time last year.
What gains have been made however, all appeared in the digital sphere, where consumer spending on subscription streaming service and mainly in the form of Netflix and Amazon Prime, have shot up by 23.3% to a total of $1.27 billion spent in Q3 of 2015 over Q3 of 2014. Additionally, purchases of movies, TV shows and assorted other content have also grown by 14% for a total of $433 million in the third quarter of this year. The streaming selections among these digital media sources are those where 4K Ultra HD content also happens to be most prevalent, with a growing share of the content selections being delivered with 4K resolution as a viewing option for those who own ultra HD 4K TVs or other media viewing devices with 4K capacity.
Moving onto physical media delivery of content, the findings by DEG show that physical packaged media sales (particularly Blu-ray and DVD) have decreased by 14% to $1.15 billion, a significante decrease from figures for 2014 for these same types of media.
However, this is where hope for the disc steps into the picture in the form of 4K UHD Blu-ray. These new next generation discs are expected to emerge at the end of 2015 or into early 2016 and media players capable of handling them are already going on sale soon. 4K TVs themselves are also widespread enough on the consumer market for a substantial market need to develop for 4K Blu-ray discs.
Furthermore, those who don’t have access to streaming 4K UHD media due to internet connectivity or area-based content restrictions will be able to enjoy native 4K video at smooth frame rates via 4K Blu-ray. Owners of 4K UHD TVs with HDR technology built into them (for a greatly expanded range of contrast and picture realism) will also be able to watch 4K Blu-ray content of this type on their televisions.
Thus, with these developments, there is a lot of expectation that 4K Blu-ray discs offer at least a sort of temporary resurgence for content via packaged physical media. Just as happened with the arrival of the original Full HD Blu-ray disc several years ago.
According to veteran entertainment industry analyst Tom Adams, “There’s a historical parallel –certainly the move over to HD sparked consumer interest in Blu-ray Disc, and for the same reason, we expect a similar effect now [with Ultra HD Blue-ray versions of the discs]”… He also pointed out the still very pertinent fact that “Networks struggle to provide the real deal, whereas the disc has the capacity to do it. So I expect people upgrading to 4K will be looking to Blu-ray as a way to get more content”.
As for the TVs that will be used to view all this content: The DEG has also found in their report that 4K Ultra HD TV sales have exploded by 494% in just the third quarter of 2015. Currently, over 2 million such TVs have been sold in the U.S market in this year and just under 3 million households currently have a 4K TV in their entertainment setup. This is already quite a substantial market for 4K UHD Blu-ray disc sales to root themselves into.
Story by 4k.com