Interest in video entertainment in all its forms is booming, boosted by increased flexibility. UltraViolet is on its way. And Blu-ray video production capacity grew by nearly 40% last year. Those, according to Jim Bottoms of Futuresource, were reasons to be cheerful, part 1, with a nod to Ian Dury and The Blockheads.
Bottoms’ comments came at yesterday’s start of the two-day MEDIA-TECH Association conference in Hamburg, Germany, where physical and digital came together in discussions on why Blu-ray is not dead, nor for that matter is CD, and why people in the physical media industry should be cheerful while still looking at ways to make money in the digital arena. Reasons not to be cheerful included (leaving aside statistics about declines in sales) the fact that the consumer still does not, in the main, ‘get’ Blu-ray, with a huge percentage even of Blu-ray player owners unaware that they can play DVDs on those players.
When it comes to Blu-ray, content is king, said media consultant and expert, and D2D writer, Fiona Maxwell, in the the context of restoration and how to preserve and enhance legacy assets. Restoration means premiers, she said, when studios can rerelease theatrically titles in all their original glory at events like the Cannes Film Festival. And it means awards as well, with restored content on Blu-ray also providing marketing and revenue opportunities for content owners.
Blu-ray production also brings with it a responsibility to keep the user experience as good as possible, pointed out Juan Reyes of testing facility BluFocus, which means quality assurance being carried out at every possible stage in the production process to avoid costly errors later on and to keep the consumer happy with the Blu-ray (and digital delivery and app) experience.
UltraViolet is another reason to be cheerful, as Christopher Schouten of Irdeto and Tony Knight of Rovi stated. UltraViolet's shot in the arm is Disc-to-Digital, said Schouten, as it helps consumers get the concept of owning content on disc and in the cloud. Making it easy for consumers to access content helps in what he called the “piracy continuum”, which ranges from criminals to confused and frustrated consumers who have trouble accessing the content they want. While Knight stated that UltraViolet’s success is not guaranteed, he believed that, in addition to the Walmart initiative, in-home Disc-to-Digital solutions, such as the Rovi technology on Samsung Blu-ray players would also help drive adoption. Like Schouten, Knight saw the main issues as being those that addressed the consumer experience and provided value.