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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Blu-ray Triumphant: News Round-up, and What Happens Next

So the rumors were true: Warner Bros., which dominates the home video biz, is going to exclusively release movies in the Blu-ray format as of June 1st.

My take: after trying to introduce a disc that would carry both formats last January (TotalHD, which didn't get traction), Warner Bros. realized it just had to pick a side to get high-def discs adopted. A Variety story had the most revealing WB quote in it: the studio realized that consumers were buying high-def TVs, but because of the confusion between Blu-ray and HD DVD, they weren't getting new DVD players to go with them. From the piece:

    "The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Barry Meyer seconded.

Essentially, every day matters now. Digital delivery of high-def movies is becoming a viable option. High-def is starting to show up on some Internet movie sites...and some next-generation set-top boxes like Vudu (iTunes and Apple TV in HD probably aren't far behind). Studios probably don't have a decade to squeeze nice profits out of Blu-ray disc releases, as they enjoyed with the original DVD format.

I expect by this Christmas, consumers will realize that the skirmish between Blu-ray and HD DVD is over, and start buying Blu-ray players in respectable (though probably not overwhelming) numbers. I'd love to hear your comments below...

The headlines:

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  • From: by Marc Andreessen

    From Variety:

    [O]verall music [CD] sales during the Christmas shopping season were down an astounding 21% from last year. From the week of Thanksgiving up through the day before Christmas Eve, 83.9 million albums were sold, a decrease of 21.38 million from 2006's 105.28 million.

    OK, now look at those numbers and tell me with a straight face that the DVD business isn't going to go through the exact same thing in a couple of years, and that HD-DVD and Blu-Ray aren't already the walking dead.

    By Blogger Zach, at 3:51 PM  

  • Given the fact that Warner people gave assurances before Christmas of their continued commitment to releasing on both formats, and the number of HD-DVD players and movies sold over the holidays, Warner should offer to exchange every HD-DVD they sold in the last month or so for a Blu-ray version. Free.

    I smell a class action suit coming.

    By Blogger Sproketz, at 9:18 PM  

  • I don't see downloading of 1080p movies going the same way as music for quite a while. You can compress (without much apparent loss, at least when listening on a iPod) a song to a reasonable size, movies is a different story.

    I have a fairly standard high speed Internet connection, with which I get a download allotment of 60 Gigs per month. One double-layer Blu-ray disk is 50 Gigs. How many of these movies can I download per month - not many! Compression will bring down the size of the movies, but isn't the best viewing experience the point of going high-definition?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:52 AM  

  • The cancellation of the scheduled cocktail party by the HD-DVD Promotional Group which should have taken place tonight is really telling. I'm a virtual outsider from all of the discussions taking place within the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD groups, but even _I_ had heard about the plans of Warner Brothers to jump ship to Blu-Ray.

    It shows that the HD-DVD camp was not prepared for WB's announcement and rather than have a fumbled response to the press questions that surely would have been hurled their way, they closed up shop. I really wish I'd gone to CES this year. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked of these companies.

    I've said it before Scott... I agree with what "P" said. Music and movies are different animals. There still isn't a viable option for anything downloadable on the movie front beyond fringe efforts. On-Demand programming through cable companies such as Comcast is the closest thing to a reliable and available "NOW" service that exists. Even that is prone to bugs, and service outages. Netflix continues to struggle with their streaming service in arranging licensing agreements for the films they carry.

    The music industry did make a catastrophic mistake back several years ago which the movie studios are now repeating... There was a point in time when the price of CDs were raised from around $12-$15/album to $15-$20/album and that was the beginning of the end. High-definition discs (while offering better quality) are being priced at a significantly higher price-point to potentially drive consumers to buy less or look to steal. Offering more value for the same price is what will keep people purchasing hard-goods such as discs.


    By Blogger Steve, at 1:41 AM  

  • Unbelievably, yes... from a Toshiba executive last night at their CES press conference, "We are surprised by WB announcement".

    From the accounts I heard, they were really bummed by all the anti-HD-DVD press coverage.

    If you look in your e-mail from me Scott, you'll remember we exchanged about this back in the first weeks of December.

    Sad. So very sad. And STILL no damned recordable HD-DVD drives anywhere.


    By Blogger Steve, at 5:01 AM  

  • I've been watching HD TV shows and recording movies on my DVR from HBO HD for awhile now. I finally got a Blu-Ray player (Sony) because I saw enough titles on Netflix and the price was finally OK.

    I am really surprised, though, at how long it takes to start up, to load a disc, to load the next thing - it's painful. I'm really unhappy with the performance.

    But, I also agree with P's comment on downloading. Not only is the huge file size an issue, but I don't (and won't) watch movies on my computer, and I get the feeling that a broadly used consumer set-top box taking content from the internet for viewing on my home HDTV/5.1 sound system isn't just around the corner.

    Now I just wonder if I'm going to need to buy a better, next-generation Blu-Ray player in the not too distant future?

    By Blogger Coach CJ, at 1:16 AM  

  • hang,
    My thoughts exactly! I am so with you on that!!!

    By Blogger Sproketz, at 4:03 AM  

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