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Home Entertainment Summit Covers 'transFORMATion' to Blu-ray

17 Jun, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

CENTURY CITY, Calif. — To allay fears that Blu-ray Disc won't replace DVD or that physical discs will die quickly due to digital downloads, Lori MacPherson, North American GM for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, pointed to the continued success of bottled water and Starbucks coffee: They offer convenience and quality. These are attributes Blu-ray can use to distinguish itself from DVD and downloads, she said at transFORMATions, the seventh annual Home Entertainment Summit, presented by Home Media Magazine at the Hyatt Regency Center Plaza.

“Transformation has always been critical to the health of our industry,” she said, predicting that as early as 2009, the growth of Blu-ray will offset any declines of DVD. “We have all the tools we need. … In terms of experience, we have the opportunity to deliver something new in the way of BD Live and 3-D.”

That was the theme that prevalent throughout the day: DVD may still reign for now, but Blu-ray has all the right traits to supplant it.

Blu-ray education

“I think the education of the consumer goes a long way,” said Mark Hollar, senior director of product management for Macrovision. “It's up to us [to let consumers] see and interact with the Blu-ray format.”

Experts said that making sure the consumer is up to speed is more important than anything else.

“I think the biggest competition to Blu-ray is consumer awareness,” said Chris Saito, VP of marketing for Paramount Home Entertainment. “Bank on Blu-ray for the best high-def experience at home.”

Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, VP of corporate development for Panasonic and GM of Panasonic's Blu-ray Disc organization, put it simply: “Digital delivery is good, DVD is better, and Blu-ray is the best quality available. Thankfully, in the motion picture business, we don't have the comparison to [music] singles.”

Just like the presidents of the home entertainment divisions of each major studio, Paramount's Saito said that the last three months of 2008 will be critical for Blu-ray's success, at least for this year.

“It's all about education, and seeing is believing,” he said.

Tsuyuzaki added “We're on track to reach a million people this year. … Once they see it, you get the ‘ah-ha' moment.”

He said that it wouldn't be shocking to see a more affordable Blu-ray player by year's end.

“Whether it's $299, $199, $99, I don't know,” he said. “… It's about finding the right value proposition. You have to give them a solid, robust reason to buy it.”

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