Conference Touts Packaged Media's Resolve3 Feb, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — The economy in tatters outside, only half of the ballroom full inside, speakers at the Future of Packaged Media conference nonetheless painted a positive picture for the state of the industry, and brought data to back it up.
“We do face some challenges, and I think some of those challenges are of our own making,” said Russ Crupnick, VP and senior entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group. “Consumers have become increasingly apathetic. … Piracy is important, digital distribution is important, but apathy may be the biggest problem we have to overcome.”
Data from his firm shows about half of all Americans are still buying DVDs during this recession, while only 2% told NPD Group that they were downloading content. For games, 36% said they were buying, 5% downloading, while for music it was 36% CDs to 13% downloading. Further proof physical media is alive and well: For digital copy, a whopping 79% of respondents told NPD that they prefer a disc vs. a code.
“And most consumers are fine with the price of DVD. … Blu-ray doesn’t quite score as high. There is some price resistance there,” Crupnick said, adding he believes the average SRP for Blu-ray Discs would drop this year.
Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix, said that when rental data is included, consumer consumption of movies is up. He also noted that more and more of his company’s customers are opting for the 25% price hike to get Blu-ray Discs.
“The interesting thing about Blu-ray … is that it’s been steadily growing,” he said, adding that the company is looking at different shipping options for Blu-ray, since they may scratch easier in current Netflix envelopes.
Producing Blu-rays is much more complicated than DVDs, experts agreed, and they’re still experimenting with the content consumers find on them.
“When a DVD was finished, it was done,” said Peter Staddon, SVP of Deluxe Digital. “Now, with BD Live, discs aren’t released, they escape.”
Speaking on how a Blu-ray bought today could have new theatrical previews five years from now — thanks to BD Live — Steven Hass, executive producer of Giant Interactive, said Blu-ray offers equal doses of excitement and headaches.
“I don’t know if there’s a general consensus yet on what works best,” he said. “BD Live presents a whole host of new issues on the back end.”
Matt Kennedy, co-founder of 1K Studios, put it in easier terms for Blu-ray laymen: “In Blu-ray, people are still calling it menus, but it’s really more of a UI (user interface). It’s more about functionality … it’s not just a list anymore, like on DVD.”
Zane Vella, president of RCDb, Related Content Database, added, “We really have no idea what to do with BD Live, or the Blu-ray format in general yet,” he said. “Look, it’s just the first wave of Blu-ray Discs, and BD Live hasn’t even been around a year.”
The Future of Packaged Media is produced by the Entertainment Merchants Association, the Media-Tech Association, and the Content Delivery and Storage Association, the first time those three trade groups had joined together. The conference continues Feb. 4 at the Universal City Hilton.