Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

from Raw Japan:

Blu-ray rental shelves still look bare

Some of my friends have bought Blu-ray disc players recently and brag about the breath-taking picture quality on their big flat TVs. Sales of Blu-ray recorders have outstripped those of regular DVD recorders by almost seven to three in recent months in Japan, research firm GfK Marketing Services Japan says.

But some Blu-ray users complain that movie rental stores don't have much of a selection in the format. Tsutaya, Japan's largest movie rental chain and a unit of Culture Convenience Club, says some of its stores carry as many as 300 Blu-ray titles, but that's barely a fraction of the average 40,000 DVD titles available.

DVD/It's perfectly understandable that it takes stores time to replace their old movie collections in the new format -- some have only recently finished the switchover from video cassettes.

But even for new releases, rental stores are unlikely to keep their Blu-ray movie collections abreast of their DVD line-ups anytime soon because of the gap in the number of titles produced for each format. There were 494 DVD movies released for rental in Japan in June, the Japan Video Software Association said. The association doesn't collect data for Blu-ray rental movies, but an official said only 10-20 percent of the 168 new Blu-ray releases that month were thought to be available for rental.