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Ascent Media Group Forms BD Live Platform

6 Jan, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Ascent Media Group Jan. 6 said it has formed a BD Live task force designed to offer back-end software technology to help studios more cost-effectively produce, host and deliver BD Live functionality on BD releases.

Following the improved audio and video qualities of Blu-ray, consumer interactivity with content creators through the Internet (BD Live) is considered the next step toward enticing wider consumer adoption of the high-definition format.

Partners include Akamai Technologies, Blink Digital, and Hamburg, Germany-based Sofatronic, whose Kaleidescope authoring and editing tools were used for the German Blu-ray release of Iron Man.

The platform aims to provide Blu-ray content creators with increased menu functionality, a more secure retailing interface, Flash media, plugged-in networks, improved bonus content download times and improved fixed disc pricing.

“Studios recognize the power of the Internet, and with that, the entertainment paradigm is shifting,” said Akamai’s Tim Napoleon, chief strategist, digital media. “BD Live is designed to help studios build social communities around entertainment content and get more for their investment through a platform for merchandising brands, promoting future sales and creating direct relationships with consumers.”

Napoleon said studios typically create a substantial infrastructure for the release of both catalog and new DVD and Blu-ray titles. He said the Ascent platform allows them to greatly reduce by 30% to 50% the costs associated with the digital distribution of the content online.

The platform achieves in part by incorporating bandwidth, software and production costs into one fee versus a studio’s current system of combining outsourced and in-house costs.

“From a distribution side, [online] is much less expensive than Netflix mailing out a title,” Napoleon said.

He said if a studio wanted to release content from a particular genre such as horror, the platform could easily develop and attach a number of interactive features to different titles specific to horror fans and consumers.

Interactive features include chat (recently incorporated in dialogues with director Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight’s BD release), interactive polls, downloading additional bonus clips, e-commerce and multiplayer video games.

“We are at the very beginning of a lot of business models that are going to emerge from BD Live,” Napoleon said.

The technology will be showcased offsite at the MGM Grand during this week’s 2009 International CES show in Las Vegas.

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