High-Def 2.0 Conference Focuses on Establishing High-Def Media5 Dec, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey
The format war took a back seat to high-definition media in general at High Def 2.0. While a majority of panelists represented companies producing Blu-ray Disc software and hardware, and representatives of HD DVD chose not to appear for the panels and awards show, research and opinions from studio, consumer electronic and media representatives offered a view of the high-def world on a whole.
The second annual conference produced by Home Media Magazine, in cooperation with The Hollywood Reporter and the Entertainment Merchants Association, to advance the cause of next-generation packaged media, was held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles on Dec. 4.
“We spend too much time attacking the blue and the red,” said Home Media Magazine publisher Thomas K. Arnold, during opening remarks. “While the consumer doesn't know enough to care.”
Helen Davis Jayalth, senior analyst for Screen Digest, offered global and U.S. statistics that backed that statement up: High-def spending will barely register compared to DVD in 2007, and studios' hopes that DVD will be supplanted by either HD DVD or Blu-ray right away seems far-fetched.
“DVD completely transformed the way we relate to home entertainment. That will never happen again,” she said.
Research from Screen Digest shows spending on DVD has been static since 2004. While more home media product has been sold year after year, the price for a DVD is dropping year after year.
To counter this, high-def has emerged, but it's been slow to catch on, Jayalth said. In 1998, the second year of DVD, those who owned a player were buying 8.9 DVDs each. In comparison, owners of Blu-ray and HD DVD set-top boxes are buying an average of 3.6 movies each. PlayStation 3 owners are buying only one movie.
“The backwards compatibility of DVDs and high-def means people won't have to replace their libraries,” she explained.
HD DVD dominates the standalone player market right now, but because of the PS3, Blu-ray by the end of the year will have an 8-to-1 overall advantage in terms of total worldwide players, she said. That may not matter, though, as Screen Digest forecasts that both formats are here to stay.
“Both formats are well established … and we expect them to coexist,” Jayalth said.
By 2012, HD DVD and Blu-ray could be seeing a 50-50 split in software sales, compared to the 2-to-1 advantage Blu-ray has enjoyed most of this year, she added. DVD will slowly give way to high-def, with high-def accounting for half of home entertainment media sales by 2012, according to Screen Digest research.
“Studio content is going to be key to mass market adoption,” Jayalth said, adding that until studios “reassess their format allegiances,” neither high-def format will be able to claim victory.
Judith McCourt, of the research firm The Redhill Group, shared statistics that showed the news isn't all bad for high-def. More than 7 million software units have been sold, and the dedicated hardware base is actually growing faster than that of DVD during its first two years, she said. In November, high-def software sales were past 1 million for the first time. And with 36% of U.S. households owning a high-def TV by the end of the year, the high-def software numbers will only go higher.
Still, “consumers really just don't get it,” McCourt said, pointing to their attitudes. “They don't understand the value proposition … [they think] what they have is good enough.”
She said better data collection should help studios understand what consumers are thinking about when it comes to high-def.