Netflix helps boost Blu-ray player and disc sales

Looks like the physical disc isn’t dead just yet: Sales of both Blu-ray players and Blu-ray discs are up, according to a new NPD Group report. The research firm points out that 15 percent of all U.S. consumers used a Blu-ray player in the first quarter of this year, up from 9 percent early last year.

One might say that an uptick in the number Blu-ray players was to be expected, with prices of those devices coming down. The interesting part of the report is that a lot of consumers actually seem to be motivated by online video in selecting a Blu-ray player. From NPD’s press release:

“50 percent of consumers who intend to buy Blu-ray set-top players in the next six months cited the desire to use available subscription video download services as a primary reason.”

People don’t necessarily buy Blu-ray players for the discs, but to access Netflix (s NFLX) instead. However, once they take the players home, they apparently decide to buy a few discs and see what all the fuss is about. Despite the massive growth of Netflix, Blu-ray users are beginning to buy more discs than they did in the two previous years, according to NPD. This means that Netflix may actually help Hollywood to sell Blu-ray discs by moving away from shipping discs itself.

Of course, one big question remains: If people primarily buy Blu-ray players to access Netflix, why don’t they just buy an Apple TV, Boxee Box or Roku device instead? NPD didn’t explore this issue, but anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that people don’t value media streaming devices the same way they do Blu-ray players. In other words: Consumers don’t see why they should spend $99 or more on a tiny little box if the same amount of money gets them a Blu-ray player that also streams online video.

Add to this the fact that Blu-ray players are becoming more and more powerful (check out the video embedded below to see what I’m talking about), and it becomes clear that media streaming device makers still have some challenges ahead of them.

Check out the latest episode of Cord Cutters to see how you can soon stream free content from and other web sites on a Blu-ray player:


Image courtesy of Flickr user /pitzyper!