HD Movie Rentals: DVD Down, Blu-ray Leaps in 2009

July 22, 2009

Where buying is not an option, there’s always rental property to consider. Apparently that goes for video discs, too.

The persistently troubling economy is keeping a lot of folks closer to home and apparently better able to watch more home entertainment in the form of HD television and video discs. And a lot of that viewing apparently is coming from rentals. While standard DVD’s popularity peaked a couple of years ago, Blu-ray is finally starting to make some inroads following a costly, time-consuming battle with format wannabe HD DVD, and the fact that standard DVD quality is not exactly shabby to begin with — even on a large-screen HD set.

In both sales and rentals for the first half of the year, Blu-ray still owns only a small slice of the overall video-disc pie (somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent, depending on the title) — yet the 1080p format’s rental numbers from Netflix, Redbox, Blockbuster and others are markedly increasing month-by-month, while DVD rentals continue to slide.

According to Rentrak, overall disc rentals rose about 8.3 percent ($3.4 billion in America), but those numbers are somewhat deceiving. Standard DVD rentals are actually down about 2.5 percent, while Blu-ray rental activity has surged more than 62 percent over a year ago.

Kiosk disc rentals, notably from Redbox, showed dramatic growth in the first six months of 2009 — climbing more than 150 percent year-to-year.

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