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Piracy Threat to DVD Not the Same as Music

22 Jun, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

Last week during the DVD in 50 conference a good deal of the discussion, both in the hallways and on the seminar stage, focused on the “next generation” of DVD, which primarily focused on high-definition.

While there are many good consumer-oriented reasons for pursuing HD-DVD including its increased capacity and quality, and better copy protection in the long term, one of the more strident arguments was that DVD could suffer the same fate as packaged music, as broadband increases and people jump on the media download wagon. But that, I believe, is a distant possibility and we still have much to pursue in the current DVD generation, though I do believe that we should be preparing for the next generation of DVD as high definition television sets grow in the U.S.

I don't think we have much comparison between the music and movie industries to draw that kind of doom-and-gloom parallel. Had the music industry kept a viable and inexpensive singles format, had they adjusted their pricing in the face of DVD (the growing presence of which begged the price/value question from consumers when compared to a CD with 15 songs or so, only a few of which one wanted), had the music industry done more to develop new talent over a longer time frame instead of looking for the next big popular hit, all of this would probably have kept the downloading business from truly engulfing the music industry.

Meanwhile, DVDs continue to offer more value for about the same price when it comes to hit movies, and there is plenty of catalog coming out at very aggressive pricing. Studios are trying a variety of models from extras-laden to vanilla versions and even a possible disposable model, to suit a variety of consumers. And while copy protection is an issue, the cost/time value equation for downloading a movie has yet to reveal itself to me or to most, not that significant broadband penetration in the U.S. and media distribution systems in households would not address that in the future. But that is still some time in the distant future.

No, I think the packaged movie business and DVD is in terrific shape now and for the foreseeable future and I think both the supply side and the retail side will continue to be sensitive to the market issues to keep any short-term digital delivery threat at bay even as we develop the next generation of DVD that will keep the business going for many, many years to come.


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