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Blu-ray sales up 91 percent in first half of 2009

Despite the recession, the Blu-ray format appears to be putting up relatively decent sales and rental numbers. Overall, however, the home entertainment industry is still contracting.

Due out September 1, the "Gladiator" Blu-ray should do big numbers.

Back in April, we reported that sales for Blu-ray Discs had nearly doubled in the first quarter compared with the year before, according to Adams Media Research. Now the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) has issued a press release saying that U.S. Blu-ray sales are up 91 percent in the first half of 2009, which indicates that the format is maintaining its growth pace despite the recession.

Blu-ray and digital downloads were a bright spot in the DEG's report. Overall, consumer spending for prerecorded entertainment was down 3.9 percent compared with the same period last year, with net profit down 2.2 percent. However, the DEG noted that spending was up in the second quarter and that higher margin products like Blu-ray and digital downloads had a favorable impact on the bottom line.

"Although consumer spending on sellthrough packaged media was down 13.5 percent in the first half of 2009," the release says, "this was partially offset by the growth of Blu-ray (up 91 percent to $407 million) and digital distribution (up 21 percent to $968 million, which includes $196 million for electronic sellthough)." Additionally, rental spending was up 8.3 percent for the first half of 2009, "boosted by an increase in Blu-ray rental spending, which was up 62 percent."

Comments? If you own a Blu-ray player, what's your ratio on renting vs. buying? And, Blu-ray detractors, do you think digital downloads will make Blu-ray a niche product sooner rather than later?