Is Blu-ray Finally Coming Around?

DVD sales are slumping, but Blu-ray is gaining ground, according to recent numbers from Home Media Research (via Electronista). Blu-ray did especially well during the recent week of Thanksgiving, climbing more than 220 percent to a total of $69 million in sales compared with the previous year. DVDs, on the other hand, tanked, dropping almost 8 percent to around $491 million.

Execs from Warner Home Video and Twentieth Century Fox tried to put a positive spin on those numbers during yesterday’s Future of Film event in Los Angeles, Variety is reporting. Fox VP Simon Swart and and Warner Home Video President Mark Horak especially celebrated the Blu-ray results, pointing out that the format got a big push from retailers that used heavily discounted Blu-ray players as well as affordable movies as door busters. Maybe this will finally be the holiday season that Blu-ray is coming around.

Microsoft (s msft) VP Blair Westlake also cautioned that physical formats will continue to feel pressure from movie downloads, VOD and other non-physical formats, Variety reported. “You’re competing with yourself,” Westlake told his Hollywood audience, pretty much summing up what has been Blu-ray’s problem all along. Consumers are now used to watching TV online, streaming videos from Netflix, and downloading movies to their Xbox. So why invest in another player that’s just going to clutter up the house with plastic discs?

On the other hand, what are people going to put under the Christmas tree, if not a shiny new box — especially if it’s dirt cheap? Even longtime NewTeeVee editor Chris Albrecht, who used to sing the praises of going all digital, recently pondered about buying a Blu-ray player for Christmas.

The format’s healthy numbers are, in part, caused by discounted hardware like the $78 Magnavox Blu-ray player sold by Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Best Buy sold a similar entry-level player for $99. Market researchers estimated that 14 percent of consumers wanted to use the shopping weekend to buy a Blu-ray player. Plus, Wal-Mart just announced that it will continue to sell its Magnavox player for less than $80, so there’s hope for the industry that others might change their mind and also buy into the format in the days to come.