UHD Blu-ray Off To A Fast Start

UHDThere’s a fair amount of buzz in the home entertainment industry about the prospects for UHD Blu-ray. Many of Giant’s clients have begun enacting their own strategy in this area, but a question often asked, however, is how the new format will fare in the marketplace, particularly among consumers who may be experiencing format fatigue from a seemingly accellerating pace of new home media tech releases, and among an audience which is increasingly drawn to internet-powered streaming media services.

It is encouraging to see then, that from the consumer side, enthusiasm for this daring new format is exceeding expectations AND exceeding market uptake compared to Blu-ray (HD) and DVD over the same stretch of their lifecycle. As industry authority Home Media Magazine notes,

Studio executives are cheered by early Ultra HD Blu-ray sales numbers, which far surpassed expectations. A total of 45 Ultra HD titles have been released on Blu-ray Disc since March — and according to Home Media Magazine market research, consumers bought more than 228,000 discs as of June 24. By comparison, Blu-ray Disc, launched in June 2006, moved just 57,000 units in the comparable time frame.

Digital_video_resolutionsUHD Blu-ray certainly offers a significant improvement, from a technical standpoint, over previous formats. As the figure to the right illustrates, the amount of available picture data is significantly more than even the best available with ‘traditional’ Blu-ray: four times the resolution of HD, and high dynamic range (HDR), which produces brilliant highlights, vibrant colors and greater contrast on compatible displays.

Consumer electronics manufacturers are making sure the consumers have the equipment to enjoy any of the 45 currently-available UHD titles now available. Panasonic announced the anticipated release of their new player in September. (Interestingly, The wireless unit, which can also stream music and 4K content from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other sources, features dual HDMI outputs, 7.1 channel analog audio output, backlit remote, DLNA support, THX certification, and high-res audio playback, among other features.) A bit pricey at $699, surely other models and manufacturers will follow and, as history has proved, as the market penetration of these devices grows, the price will drop.

Yet, there is an expectation that UHD Blu-ray will offer a temporary resurgence, at least, for content via packaged physical media.

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 more titles hit the market throughout the summer and in preparation for the critical holiday home entertainment sales season, this consumer interest (and sales volume!) will, hopefully, only improve, encouraging more content owners to consider UHD Blu-ray for their physical media release strategy.