M+E Daily

Amazon Offers Keys to Blu-ray Market Growth at Blu-Con

By Marcy Magiera

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Amazon.com opened the Blu-Con 2010 conference here by telling a room of more than 400 industry execs how they can expand Blu-ray Disc sales by giving consumers more titles and easier Internet connectivity.

Bill Carr, Amazon’s VP of music and video, invoked the voice of the Amazon customer, saying that “Blu-ray is a product customers love,” but that the format also comes up short, particularly in the area of selection.

“Broad selection is critical to signal Blu-ray is here to stay,” Carr told the Blu-Con audience. “Customers need to be confident in the format to build deep libraries.”

The retailer said that within five years of DVD’s introduction, there were more than 20,000 titles available at retail. By comparison, there are under 5,000 Blu-ray titles available today, he said. Amazon carries 150,000 individual titles on DVD, he said, and just 4,000 on Blu-ray. “It will be a great day when those numbers are the same, or Blu-ray is higher.”

Among the movies most requested on Blu-ray by Amazon customers: the original “Star Wars” trilogy (episodes 4-6), “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Finding Nemo,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Pulp Fiction.”

After consumers adopt Blu-ray, they spend four times the amount on software that they did a few quarters prior to their Blu-ray purchase, Carr said. After the initial transition, spending stays high, but Blu-ray customers still buy as much as 50% of their movies on DVD, due to Blu-ray’s limited selection and price premium, Carr said.

At an average price premium of $10, Blu-ray accounts for a little less than half the sales volume of a title, Amazon found. But if there were no price premium for the newer format, Blu-ray might account for 90% of sales volume, according to the retailer.

Combo packs also stimulate Blu-ray adoption, Carr said.

He addressed hardware and the need for consumer education, noting that while Internet-connected Blu-ray players enable multi-format consumption, connection rates for Blu-ray players are still relatively low.

Firmware updates, and the lack of consumers getting the ones they need, generate many consumer complaints to Amazon, Carr said, recommending that more players need to ship with an internal wireless antenna.

“A connected Blu-ray player is an even better customer experience,” Carr said.

The move to Blu-ray 3D requires even more comprehensive customer education, he said. To help with that, Amazon recently launched a series of one-minute videos on its site answering frequently asked questions on home 3D.