Blu-ray Disc Association says it’s too early to lower prices

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Los Angeles (CA) – So the Blu-ray disc is the only physical high-definition format left in the market, but that isn’t going to translate into lower prices any time soon, according to Andy Parsons, the Chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association.  Parsons, who is also the senior VP of Advanced Product Development at Pioneer Electronics, told attendees at the DisplaySearch/NPD HDTV conference in Los Angeles that Blu-ray volume needs to increase before content makers and set-top makers can cut prices.

Parsons was speaking as part of a panel on high-definition formats and told the audience that Blu-ray hardware and disc prices are behaving the same as when DVD players were first getting popular.  “There’s not enough market [volume] to lower the price,” Parsons said, adding that companies have to build “awareness and demand for the technology," before prices can decrease.

In terms of market volume, DVD players and discs still rule the market and Blu-ray is being sold at a premium (relatively speaking).  The cheapest BD player is currently selling for approximately $230 with many players still selling for $300 to $600 dollars.  DVD players in contrast are almost give-aways these days, costing less than $100.  Blu-ray movies often sell for $25 and up while DVDs can easily be bought for $20 and under.  But Parsons points out that DVD didn’t start out at $49, adding, “people complained about it [pricing] back then too.”

Even though Blu-ray easily fought off HD-DVD, Parson admits the format isn’t going to get a free ride from consumers.  Digital downloads will be a worthy threat to Blu-ray, but he says people understand packaged media better and that consumers want something that, “they can hold in their hands”.  Furthermore, Parsons believes packaged media will remain the dominant format.

But in the end, DVDs could be the biggest threat to Blu-ray.  According to Danny Kaye, EVP of Global Research and Technology Strategy at 20th Century Home Entertainment, don’t count the standard definition disc out just yet.  “We buried DVD long before its time … it’s going to be a long time before it dies,” he said.