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US consumers scooped up 3.5m BD3D discs in first 12 months of availability

US consumers purchased an estimated 1.75 million Blu-ray 3D discs during the format's first 12 months on the market, and brought home another 1.7 million units as part of hardware/software bundling deals, according to the new IHS Screen Digest report entitled Life in 3D: BD3D's First Year of Sales.

From 22 June 2010 to 21 June 2011, 1.59 million BD3D feature films were sold in the United States. When combined with the format’s 161,700 non-feature units, a grand total of 1.75 million BD3D units were sold at retail, according to an IHS analysis of Nielsen VideoScan point-of-sale data.

Another 1.7 million BD3D discs were delivered to US consumers through hardware bundling deals during the same period, bringing the total to 3.5 million, IHS estimates.

“Consumers are finding that 3-D is one of the most fun concepts in home entertainment since color television, providing true three-dimensional pictures right in their living room,” said Jan Saxton, senior analyst, film entertainment, for IHS. “Once they have 3-D in the home, they love it and are hungry for content, snapping up BD3D movies as soon as they become available. Sales reached this high level despite the fact that the number of BD3D titles on the market was relatively small compared to non-3-D Blu-ray.”

A total of 93 BD3D titles were expected for release in the United States during 2010 and 2011, the first two calendar years of the format’s availability. In comparison, 448 Blu-ray titles were released during that format’s first two years in the market.

Even with the format’s limited number of titles, a total of 507,293 BD3D discs were sold in 2010. This compares favorably to the 363,000 non-3-D Blu-ray units sold in that format's launch year of 2006.

The major reason for the limited number of BD3D titles on the market is the relatively small quantity of 3D titles released theatrically in previous years. However, this is rapidly changing. There were 23 theatrical 3D releases in 2010, and virtually all the big tentpole movies this year are being given the 3D treatment, which will allow the release of more 3D titles in 2011 and the following years.

Additionally, studios are already converting some of their major hits from the past 30 years for theatrical re-release in 3D, like Star Wars and Titanic, with video releases sure to follow.

The growing number of titles – combined with the large installed base of BD3D-capable players as well as the rising sales of 3D-capable television sets – will cause sales to accelerate in the second half of this year.

The first film to hit retail on BD3D was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, released in the United States by Sony on 22 June 2010. Based on analysis of point-of-sale data from Nielsen's VideoScan service, IHS estimates the title sold close to 50,000 units in its first year at retail. That may seem modest, but Cloudy was also bundled with Sony 3D TVs and Sony 3D starter kits, which consist of extra pairs of the 3D glasses necessary for each 3D viewer – so the total number of units ‘sold’ was boosted significantly by the Sony bundles.

Like Sony, other studios have formed partnerships with 3D hardware manufacturers to get their 3D titles into early-adopting homes. Probably the most highly anticipated 3D film of all, Avatar, is still available only through Fox's exclusive bundling deals with Panasonic, or on resale sites like eBay and Amazon Marketplace.

Story filed 25.07.11

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