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TK's MORNING BUZZ: With the Ability to Put Even More Programming on a Single DVD, Why Do Studios and Consumers Prefer Multi-Disc Sets?

16 Oct, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The fabled "blue light" DVD is one step closer. Matsushita Electric yesterdayunveiled a recordable DVD that stores a whopping 50 gigabytes of data on a single side -- more than 10 times the storage capacity of current DVDs.

The new disc uses blue-laser light and a semitransparent material that lets users record data on two separate layers. It can hold up to eight hours of digital high-definition video footage and is fully compatible withhigh-definition television standards.

The unveiling -- no date has been announced about when the new technology will be available for sale -- follows Sony's January announcement of a proprietary technology that also uses blue laser light. Sony's DVR-Blue, which has yet to marketed commercially, can cram 22.5 gigabyes of data on a single side.

Matsushita's next-generation DVD is being branded a recording vehicle for HDTV, but you know it's going to migrate to the prerecorded end of the business. The new and improved DVD, at least among purists, will rendertoday's DVD obsolete, since it will conform to high-definition TV standards,which aren't set to go into effect here in the United States for another fiveor so years.

Sadly, one benefit of the new disc we likely won't see the studios take advantage of is the ability to put even more programming on a single disc,like all five Rocky films on one DVD. That would be a dream for me -- space isalways at a premium at my house, and my wife already cringes when I bring home another stack of DVDs -- but it's not going to happen, simply because it would present a marketing dilemma.

Studios have found that consumers put a certain value on a DVD, a higher value on a two-DVD set, and so on. Price a single DVD much above $25 and you'll hear screams of outrage, no matter how much good stuff is on it. That's one reason Disney and Fox both went the two-disc route with Snow Whiteand The Phantom Menace -- it costs bucks to produce and develop all that bonus material, but if you put it all on one disc the consumer wonders why he'sbeing charged a premium -- a disc is a disc is a disc, right?

There are other reasons we're seeing a proliferation of multi-disc sets, space among them. But by and large, a good percentage of today's double-disc sets could have been single discs, had the studio marketing departments not nixed the idea.

That's why technology could one day let us put 100 movies on a single disc, and there would be no takers.

He with the most discs wins.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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