Sony Outlines Its Blu-Ray Disc Pricing

Sony has become the first film studio to outline price points for movies it will release in the forthcoming Blu-Ray disc format, setting a retail pricing target 15 to 20 percent higher than current retail pricing for standard DVDs.

Sony initially plans to ship 18 titles from its movie catalog, including the films Hitch,The Fifth Element,The Terminator,Desperado,House of Flying Daggers, and Species at a wholesale price of $17.95 each. Individual retailers will determine their own markups and margins for those titles on their store shelves.

New titles like Underworld: Evolution are scheduled for early summer release at a wholesale price of $23.45; again, individual retailers will determine their own markup and margins, thus setting their own final retail prices.

The $23.45 wholesale price for new releases represents a 15 to 20 percent increase over wholesale prices for new releases in standard DVD format, while the $17.95 wholesale price point for older titles can be 50 percent to 80 percent higher than the retail price of the same titles in standard DVD format.

Sony says it initially plans to ship four Blu-Ray titles a month, increasing releases to ten Blu-Ray titles a month by the fourth quarter of 2006.

Sony’s Blu-Ray format is still locked in a looming format war with Toshiba’s competing HD DVD technology. HD DVD is generally seen as the lower-cost contender, with initial pricing for players expected to debut in March 2006 expected to be between $500 and $700, compared to $1,000 for Blu-Ray players when they ship in mid-2006. Studios haven’t announced pricing for HD DVD titles.