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A Long-Awaited Industry Gathering

12 Nov, 2009 By: Stephanie Prange

Last week’s Blu-Con 2.0 brought together the home entertainment industry, which hasn’t convened en masse for more than a year — and perhaps for good reason. Recent economic turmoil stunned the industry, with consumer habits shifting so quickly from the downturn that many in the business found it hard to adjust or evaluate.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president David Bishop
summed it up. If the industry had had an event last year at this time, none of the shellshocked studio presidents would have come.

“We were all too depressed,” he said.

Now that depression is lifting and industry leaders are looking forward to better times. As I told colleagues at the gathering, Blu-Con 2.0 was a chance for the industry to recalibrate.

We’ve got a new technology in Blu-ray Disc that is growing in sales despite the economic climate. Certainly, digital delivery may become “the icing on the cake” for the industry, as longtime industry researcher Tom Adams put it, but the stalwart disc is here to stay for some time. The industry is united, on the packaged media software front, behind Blu-ray. The Blu-ray Disc Association’s Andy Parsons (as have others over the past few months) promised a 3D standard by the end of the year, and it looks like any battles on 3D technology will take place outside the software realm. Whatever display or system a consumer chooses, the Blu-ray 3D standard will be the same — and the promise of 3D in the home is truly exciting, especially for anyone who viewed the Panasonic demonstration at Blu-con.

While some may choose more convenient, lower-quality digital delivery, as more than 40 percent of streaming Netflix customers have, that subscription goliath will “be shipping discs until 2030,” noted Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. If it’s quality a consumer wants, there is still nothing that can compete with the Blu-ray Disc. And internationally, it is for many the only way to experience high-definition, as many countries don’t have wide access.

The Blu-ray Disc also can bridge the digital divide as studio executives on my panel noted digital copies were hitting ever higher redemption rates, and panelists speaking about BD Live noted growing progress in connecting Blu-ray to the Web.

The industry regained its bearings at Blu-Con, and looks to forge a strong future after difficult times.


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