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Incentives Galore

2 Dec, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Every day, it seems, there's a new development that makes Blu-ray Disc even more irresistible to the masses. The latest development: Universal Studios Home Entertainment's "flipper" disc, with Blu-ray Disc on one side and DVD on the other. Priced about the same as a regular Blu-ray Disc — or DVD, for that matter — the package offers Blu-ray Disc owners the chance to watch the movie in high-def in their home theater room and on DVD in their car, bedroom, laptop or anywhere else they haven't yet upgraded. And for non-Blu-ray Disc owners, it's an enticing lure to be able to buy something they can watch on their existing DVD player, while all the time the Blu-ray Disc side beckons to them, "Watch me, watch me...you don't know what you're missing." I know if I had an HDTV and hadn't yet gotten a Blu-ray player, all the hype about a six-times clearer picture would at the very least make me curious — and if I could now buy a disc with Blu-ray on one side and DVD on the other that Blu-ray side sure would make me antsy. I'd feel as though I was almost done with a puzzle, and the last piece was a Blu-ray player.

Uni's flipper disc comes on top of other nifty incentives to get the masses to convert. There's the Disney-pioneered combo pack, with a Blu-ray Disc, a DVD and a digital copy disc all in one package; there's loss-leader Blu-ray Disc pricing on hot new releases at Wal-Mart and other big discount chains; and there's a sharp drop in actual selling prices for Blu-ray Disc catalog titles, most recently an under-$7 promotion at Best Buy (click here to read our story).

There are a few things we still need to really get the masses addicted to this potent format:

1) A generic ad campaign aimed at those HDTV buyers who haven't yet upgraded to Blu-ray Disc. This is critical, because HDTVs clearly are the hot item this holiday season, and rampant discounting — I saw some decent sets, 19 inches, going for $149 at Best Buy on Black Friday — is going to make them even more hot as the season winds down to its Christmas climax. So let's go for broke and make it perfectly clear that those HDTVs just aren't complete without a Blu-ray Disc player. I'm not an ad copywriter, but I'm thinking something along the lines of "Go Blu. Your High-Def TV Needs a High-Def Disc."

2) TV combos. When are we going to see HDTVs with built-in Blu-ray Disc players? Those TV-DVD combo players that popped up shortly after DVD's launch more than a decade ago no doubt encouraged consumers to transition from VHS. They were like an affirmation that DVD had arrived. Now, we have a perfect opportunity to marry those HDTVs with high-def players. Why haven't we done so? It galled me to no end on Friday when I saw an Emerson HDTV-DVD combo unit. That's like installing a Blaupunkt stereo with an eight-track player. And just think of the message that sends to consumers: "Here's your shiny new HDTV and a DVD player, which really is all you need...." Let's counter this crap ASAP.

3) TV series on Blu-ray. So far, they've been few and far between. Kudos to Universal for putting out the complete series of "Battlestar Galactica" on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and ditto to HBO for "Rome." But what about "The Sopranos" or "Seinfeld"? We need to up the ante in TV DVD land, particularly on the complete series front.

Here's hoping we all have a Blu Christmas.

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