07.22.2009 11:50 AM
HD Movie Rentals: DVD Down, Blu-ray Leaps in 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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