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More consumers are now aware of Blu-ray disc and its capabilities, but only a fraction of them plan to purchase an appropriate device to take advantage of higher resolution that their high-definition TV sets have. The popularity of Blu-ray may increase once the prices are down.

According to The NPD Group, a market research company, 45% of HDTV owners in the U.S. claim to be familiar with BD format, up from 35% in June 2007. Still, only 6% of all consumers surveyed and 9% of HDTV owners said they plan to purchase a Blu-ray disc device in the next six month.

“With HDTVs now in approximately 40 million US households, that percentage translates to a pool of almost 4 million potential BD player buyers,” said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for NPD.

Nevertheless, manufacturers still face challenges. Although HD DVD is no longer a competitive threat, many consumers are content with standard-definition DVD players and content. The leading reasons cited as barriers to purchase were a perceived high cost of BD players and a belief that standard-definition DVD is “good enough”. Consumers, who purchased a BD set-top player, cited “leading-edge technology” and a “superior viewing experience” as primary reasons for making the purchase.

In fact, current owners of standalone Blu-ray disc players expect that 80% of their upcoming purchases will be in BD rather than standard DVD. By comparison, 43% of Sony PlayStation 3 owners use the BD capability in their consoles at least once a month; however, they do not view BD movies as often as set-top device owners do.

“The door is open for studios to feed the consumer’s appetite for Blu-ray content, and we expect sales to increase, as prices for hardware and software moderate in the coming months. Even so it will take a concerted effort by manufacturers and retailers to ratchet awareness even further and convince all of those potential buyers of the superiority of Blu-ray Disc versus standard DVD,” Mr. Crupnick said.

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