First Projections for DVD-Audio and SACD Disc Sales Released

Trying to get a grip on where the new high-end audio formats, DVD-Audio and SACD, might be going? A logical place to start might be to check with the factories getting ready to crank out the discs and see how the orders have so far stacked up. After conducting just such a survey, the International Recording Media Association (IRMA) released last week the first projections for next year's worldwide marketplace introduction of DVD-Audio and SACD.

IRMA reports that, according to a survey of replicators who will be prepared to fill the pipeline with DVD-Audio and SACD product in 2000, a total of 18 million discs will be produced in North America in the first year of the new formats' launch. The survey projects that the number of discs being manufactured in North America will grow to 50 million in 2001, followed by 80 million units in 2002, and culminating in 125 million units in the final year of the IRMA forecast, 2003. Worldwide DVD-Audio and SACD replication is projected to reach 28 million units next year, followed by 86 million units in 2001, 162 million units in 2002, and 295 million units in 2003.

IRMA executive VP Charles Van Horn notes that "The launch of these new music formats will be driven by consumer acceptance of a universal player, which will be able to play the highest-quality audio and video programming. Overall, the success of these new formats will depend on the record labels' ability to differentiate the advantages of DVD-Audio or SACD over CD to consumers. Inevitably, the introduction of remixed, 5.1 surround-sound versions of archived music libraries, as well as appreciably higher-fidelity music product, will serve as the way that the labels convince consumers to move up to the new format."

What the survey didn't note, however, is how many discs of each format (DVD-Audio vs. SACD) are slated for production, giving consumers no clue as to which will be quickest out of the gate with the most releases. Place your bets.