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It's Back to ‘Risky Business'

3 Jul, 2008 By: Stephanie Prange

It's not just the 25th anniversary for the 1980s hit Risky Business (see story, page 19). It's yet another time in this changing industry in which the business is getting riskier.

It's always interesting when the noise of the industry takes a pause to listen to the consumer. This is such a year.

After almost a decade of watching consumers buy DVDs at an ever-increasing rate and a couple of years monitoring the back-and-forth progress of a next-generation format war, the business is in transition — with a new format winner. Studios and the home media business are looking to the consumer to tell them the direction home entertainment will take.

Will DVD remain the dominant, yet slowly shrinking, format for buying and renting movies and TV shows for years to come? Or will the consumer move on to the next-generation packaged-media format — high-definition Blu-ray Disc — or to digital delivery? Will consumers simply lose interest in buying or renting home movies and look to illegal downloads, games or the Internet to occupy their limited free time? Or will some hybrid of packaged media and digital delivery emerge?

A few months ago, someone asked me to look into my crystal ball and determine the future of the home entertainment business. Here was my best guess: I'd like the best of all worlds.

I'd like an HD packaged media disc that can serve as my ultimate copy of the films I adore and want to own. I don't want to keep all of my movies on a hard drive in my home or in the Internet cloud. I'd like to have the film on disc, one of the most convenient storage devices for movies, so I can pop it into my Blu-ray player and watch it in the best possible resolution on my big, flat-screen HDTV. But I'd also like to have the disc serve up a digital copy of the movie for portability to my laptop, iPod or other devices. Honestly, I don't want to cart around a bunch of discs in different formats (DVD, Blu-ray) when we go on vacation. I'd like a low-res copy to take along that plays on my husband's laptop as well as my daughters' iPods.

The content supplier that listens to these concerns — as well as to the concerns of the rest of the consumers out there — will be the winner in this transformational year. Consumers are under more pressure to make smart purchase decisions than perhaps they have been in several decades. The message of the home media business should be, “We're listening.”

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