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Blu-ray Won; What Now?

2 Mar, 2008 By: Stephanie Prange

One of the greatest revelations about DVD versus its predecessor, VHS, was that it offered a much better value for the price. It was smaller and easier to store, its content was easier to navigate and — to top it off — it was for the most part cheaper on street date. VHS wasn't universally sellthrough priced as was DVD.

Since the size issue no longer applies, Blu-ray Disc must somehow compete with DVD on value. The disc enthusiasts at Home Theater Forum think better picture and sound just won't be enough. Player prices will have to come down, as will the prices on the software to compel consumers to make the transition.

Also, Blu-ray Disc extras will need to blow away those on DVD. Now that many DVD producers can turn their attention away from authoring for both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, perhaps they can focus on making the next great leap forward in disc features.

In my opinion, digital copies of movies on discs will make Blu-ray a much greater value than DVD. It marries the best of both packaged media and digital delivery. Studios can control how the digital copy is used (limiting it to, say, one or two copies). And consumers won't be compelled to go online, where they may turn to illegal downloading.Another possibility, as I've mentioned in a review of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, is multiple versions of a movie on one disc. That Blu-ray release included the multiple incarnations of the Steven Spielberg classic, explaining each and every change — an invaluable resource for film buffs and fans of the movie. The strategy also somewhat mitigates one of the major consumer complaints about DVD, that studios release theatrical and then director's cut versions. Now, the studio can go back and put both on one Blu-ray, making the new buy a space saver — and a greater value for the consumer.

Ultimately, it's value that will make Blu-ray a winner in the mainstream market, not hype or the end of the format war (although those both help). How will the industry entice the consumer to value Blu-ray as a new format? That's the question DVD producers and studios need to be asking themselves right now.

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