|10 Jan 2008, 07:49 AM||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Over The Edge
Blu Ray/HD-DVD Soap Opera (Behind the scenes)
The Blu-ray/HD-DVD Soap Opera: Behind the Scenes
In our last episode of the high-definition DVD soap opera, Warner Bros. last week shunned a former good friend, the HD format, in favor of Blu-ray. There were gasps from the audience, as HD clung desperately to its last remaining industry friends. But, wait, there's more....
Stop the War
Reuters reported Tuesday that Warner's newfound monogamous love for Blu-ray was driven by falling DVD industry sales and "fears of a deteriorating U.S. economy." DVD sales, which can account for as much as half of a feature film's profits, declined last year. Citing a "top executive," the news service said Tuesday the company decided it needed to stop the format war before the economy tanked and DVD sales worsened.
According to published reports, Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in America, said that consumers were "gravitating towards Blu-ray -- particularly in the U.K. and Japan." Counting PlayStation 3 videogame consoles, which include a Blu-ray player, 80 percent of the high-definition disc players on the market are reportedly Blu-ray.
In order to convince consumers of their love for Blu-ray, Reuters said, the Blu-ray consortium -- which now numbers five of the seven major Hollywood studios -- is considering spending half a billion dollars in 2008. That's more than was spent on both formats combined over this past holiday season.
Meanwhile, HD's parent, Toshiba, is presently in what is technically known as a funk. It canceled a press conference scheduled for Sunday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and has refused to talk to the media about its dilemma.
Et Tu, Paramount?
But this melodrama of changing relationships may be nearing its climax. According to published reports, Paramount is ready to drop HD in favor of Blu-ray.
Paramount has denied the claim, and said it expects to continue being HD's friend. But one report said Paramount can legally switch if it wants to, because of a clause in its HD contract stipulating it can switch if Warner Bros. does.
If Paramount does switch to Blu-ray, HD may die of a broken heart -- if lack of movie titles doesn't get it first. In late summer, Paramount had announced it would hang with HD exclusively, a move that put a smile on that alliance's collective face. That smile had gotten wider in the fall, when as many as 90,000 HD-DVD players were sold in one weekend because of HD's $200 price difference compared to even the lowest-priced Blu-ray player.
Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg pointed out that there's ultimately one friend all the actors in this story need -- the consumer. "If Paramount does bolt," he noted, "it still doesn't guarantee success for Blu-ray, because people still have to buy" the players and discs.
Gartenberg and others have noted that, in essence, there are no rules in love and format war. Consumers, as fickle as any studio, may shun Blu-ray in favor of much cheaper, high-grade regular DVD players, and, eventually, for online delivery of high-definition titles.
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