NPD has come forth with new Blu-ray player sales figures that show how U.S. consumers are finally warming up to the technology. According to the market research firm, people bought more than 400,000 standalone Blu-ray players in the first quarter of 2009, an increase of 72% over the same period last year. Dollar sales, however, increased only 14% to $107.2 million, reflecting the sharp drop in price over the past twelve months.

The average selling price for a standalone Blu-ray disc player dropped nearly 35%, from $393 in the first quarter of 2008 to $261 in the first quarter of 2009. This along with a rising number of HDTV owners seeking high-def content were described as the two key issues driving the increase in standalone player sales. Meanwhile, awareness of the format in the United States is said to have reached 90 percent over the last six months albeit only six percent of respondents claim to be very likely to buy a player in the coming months.

The report echoes a related study from Adams Media Research last month, which claims that sales of Blu-ray media have nearly doubled in just a few months, rising to roughly 9 million discs sold in the previous quarter.