During a recent trip to BestBuy, I realized (as many fans have) that WWE seems to be releasing less of their pay-per-view events on the Blu-ray format here in the United States.
While they have continued to offer some of the major shows (i.e. WrestleMania) on the high-def format, as well as the "WWE: Best Pay-Per-View Matches 2011" Blu-ray disc set released last December, some of the secondary pay-per-views have yet to escape the standard-def clutches of DVD.
For a company that has dominated home video sales in the sports category dating back to the VHS format, it strikes me as a puzzling decision given the strides Blu-ray has made over the past several years, not to mention the dwindling support for standard definition programming among television networks, cable/satellite providers and consumers.
PWInsider's Mike Johnson has stated that the decision was made because of low Blu-ray sales in the United States. Incidentally, overall sales of Blu-ray discs grew to more than $2 billion last year, an increase of 19 percent over 2010 figures. Additionally, the number of households with a Blu-ray playback device also rose to just under 40 million, a whopping 38 percent more than in 2010.
Despite the fact that WWE may be failing to meet its goals for Blu-ray sales, to scale back on high-def pay-per-view releases is folly. As is the case with all technology, the next big thing is always right around the corner. Betamax was usurped by VHS. VHS fell to DVD. Now, amidst reports that Blu-ray is at an all-time high while DVD sales plummeted by 20 percent last year, it's clear that another shift is in effect.
Before long, HD will rule television and home video. Some would argue that it does already. And while the company has done well in distributing content via online streaming services and video on-demand, its DVD-heavy home video catalog and reduced focus on Blu-ray titles seems to be in conflict with growing consumer trends (not unlike some of the creative content on WWE TV).
Personally, I refuse to spend money on a substandard video format. If recent (and not-so-recent) data is to be believed, the number of people like me is growing hand-over-fist and the reduction of Blu-ray releases probably doesn't come as good news to any of us.
A more prudent move might be to lower the MSRP of said releases.
However, given WWE's past decision to increase the ordering price of the actual pay-per-view events in the face of a global recession, I'm not holding my breath for any discounts on Blu-ray.
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