Blu-ray group touts Euro growth


LONDON -- Just two months after reaching the 1 million-unit mark, Blu-ray disc movie sales across Europe have smashed through the 2 million-barrier, the Blu-ray Disc Association European Promotions Committee said Wednesday.

The latest figures from Media Control Gfk International show Blu-ray movie sales totaling 2.4 million, or 79% of the high-definition movie discs bought by consumers in the year-to-date across Europe.

Sales leading up Christmas were strong, with more than half a million Blu-ray movie discs sold in December, outselling HD-DVD by 3-to-1 margin and capturing a 75% market share.

The biggest Christmas release was "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," with sales of nearly 100,000 units. This was joined by impressive sales for "The Simpsons Movie" and "Casino Royale."

The BDA claimed that the data showed "a rapidly accelerating rate in the growth of Blu-ray Disc sales across Europe" and that it was now becoming firmly established as the next generation format.

Quoting Screen Digest data, it also compared Blu-ray's rate of growth with that of standard DVD.

"DVD-Video was first introduced into Western Europe in 1997, and the following year some 230,000 DVD players were installed and 2 million discs were sold through," the group said. "In comparison, Blu-ray Disc made its first tentative launch in Western Europe in 2006, and the following year some 3.2 million PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles and 34,000 standalone players were installed, while 2.3 million Blu-ray discs sold through."

BDA European Promotions Committee chairman Frank Simonis said the sales data proved that Blu-ray had reached a "tipping point."

"News from Warner Bros. at CES last month caught the headlines, but what this news proves is that the tipping point in the format war in Europe happened several months prior to CES and the tide has been running strongly in favor of Blu-ray Disc for many months," he said. "Our challenge now is to move Blu-ray Disc into the mainstream."