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Amazon Supports All High-Def Formats

24 Apr, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Amazon is leaping into the high-definition fray via its CustomFlix Labs, and embracing all the players.

CustomFlix, the wholly owned video-on-demand arm for the leading online retailer, will support high-definition content from multiple formats — Blu-ray, HD DVD and Windows Media Video High-Definition DVD (WMV-HD DVD).

Amazon is able to offer multi-format support thanks to a proprietary storage and repurposing platform that is designed to allow deployment of digitized files in different formats.

The site is format-agnostic and has eliminated the risk of creating versions of a format that doesn't take off with consumers, said Dan LoPiccolo-Giles, co founder and managing director of CustomFlix.

With the technology options are set up, the site is also making sure there will be all-important content available for CustomFlix users brokering a deal with HDNet, a national network co-founded by Mark Cuban that broadcasts all content in high def.

Amazon and HDNet will work together to digitize hundreds of titles for sale on Amazon.com, the first of which will be in the WMV-HD DVD format with Blu-ray and HD DVD technology to follow.

“HD Net has a deep commitment to helping HD become the new viewing standard in both broadcast and on DVD,” said Cuban, president of HDNet. “Unfortunately, the disparate HD formats will make establishing a single standard difficult and result in customer confusion. CustomFlix allows customers interested in HD content to simply choose whatever format they want.”

CustomFlix also has brokered content deals with NBC Universal, A&E Home Video, and PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), to encode and distribute popular broadcast content via DVD on Demand on the Amazon.com Web site.

NBC offerings will start with titles like the “Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show” and segments from the network's “Today” show, such as “Where in the World is Matt Lauer” pieces. More NBC titles are being added on an ongoing basis. The network also will pre-sell the DVDs during the initial airing of the broadcast.

This allows NBC to offer viewers a quick, easy option to purchase programming that otherwise isn't available through traditional DVD distribution,” said Kim Niemi, SVP of NBC Universal Television Distribution, Video, Music and Product Development.

A&E Home Video has slated more than 1,000 titles for sale to Amazon shoppers via CustomFlix, including History Channel and Biography Channel programs like "Modern Marvels," "Investigative Reports" and the award-winning "Biography" series.

A&E likes the offering because Amazon.com has a great history of matching users to new content, said Kate Winn, VP of Sales & Marketing for A&E Home Video, and it's cost-effective.

"Because we have no inventory costs, it makes economic sense to make a much broader range of titles available than we could through a traditional manufacturing and warehousing approach,” she said “The CustomFlix Automated Artwork system allows us to effortlessly add titles without additional design time or costs."

PBS programs to be made available on CustomFlix include "American Experience", "Antiques Road Show," "Frontline" and "Nova."

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