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DVD Continues to Spin on Top

29 Aug, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange

The future of DVD is looking brighter than ever. The two mediums that vie to be its successor, electronic delivery and high-definition discs, have entered ever-more murky waters.

Google Video, launched with fanfare less than two years ago, has shuttered, with executives refocusing their efforts on ad-supported video, rather than customers paying to watch. The market for pay video on the Internet is so minimal that Blockbuster Inc. acquired digital delivery service Movielink for a mere $6.6 million.

Why do so many folks still say that online delivery of content is the wave of the future? If so, it's a future that I've been waiting for since I joined this magazine (then Video Store Magazine) more than a dozen years ago.

Pardon me for being skeptical, but digital delivery, to quote Jerry Maguire, has yet to “show me the money!”

On the packaged-media front, DVD has not yet found its true successor.

Last week's announcement by Paramount Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation did nothing to further the cause of high-definition discs. If anything, it leaves the market more confused.

Rumors of payments and replication problems aside, the consumer reaction can be only confusion. No matter what some say, the high-def grudge match is not a plus for consumers. If you want Shrek 3 in high-def, you've got to have an HD DVD player. If you want Spider-man 3, you've got to buy Blu-ray hardware.

Ultimately, consumers will just buy the DVD (or the HD DVD/DVD combo, even if they only ever use the DVD side).

The format war may lower prices more quickly, but it also leaves consumers on the sidelines for some time, waiting to see which format will win.

Of course, as I have, one can always buy players for both formats. But when DVDs look so good on upconverting players, why would a mainstream consumer bother?

Until high-definition extras become truly compelling — and I've yet to see that happen despite many advances — the format war will only serve to keep folks buying DVDs.

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