3.5 million 3D Blu-ray Discs sold, with a footnote

Around 3.5 million Blu-ray 3D movies have been sold to consumers in the US, but only half of them were really purchased.

Research firm IHS Screen Digest released a new report detailing sales data of the nascent Blu-ray 3D platform (BD3D), one of the first such reports since the format first became available last year.

The report claims 3.5 million BD3D movies have been sold, but that includes discs that were bundled with 3D TVs. In fact, those bundles account for half of the sales numbers, meaning only about 1.75 million BD3D discs were actually purchased directly.

The BD3D format has already seen its share of snags. For one, it’s now competing against an ever-increasing digital streaming presence, something that Blu-ray didn’t really have to contend with five years ago to become the HD disc standard.

Second, as a way of boosting both 3D TV and Blu-ray 3D sales, many of the early BD3D movies were in fact only available to consumers who purchased a specific brand of 3D TV.

The 3D version of Avatar, for example, remains exclusively available to people who buy a Panasonic 3D TV or Panasonic 3D glasses bundle.

Having said all that, however, these numbers are still fairly impressive. In Blu-ray’s first year on the market in 2006, only 363,000 discs were sold. And it could very well be that the bundling of BD3D discs was in fact a deciding factor for some consumers to buy a 3D TV.

IHS senior analyst Jan Saxton posited that once consumers have a 3D TV, “They love it and are hungry for content, snapping up BD3D movies as soon as they become available. Sales reached this high level despite the fact that the number of BD3D titles on the market was relatively small compared to non-3D Blu-ray.”

By the end of 2011, the number of Blu-ray 3D movies is expected to approach 100.