Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blu-Ray Versus HD-DVD

I read an interesting article by Reuters on Friday.

The story dissected the battle over the next generation of DVDs and suggested that "Porn could be the key" to success in the war.

The combatants are HD-DVD and Blu-ray. For those not familiar with the formats, both are high density optical discs that store data and video. Wikipedia says: "HD DVD has a lower disc capacity per layer (15 GB vs 25 GB)" than Blu-ray, which can hold more data. Sony backs Blu-ray while Toshiba backs HD-DVD.

Blu-ray is also supported by Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Dell and Panasonic. "[F]ive Hollywood studios exclusively support Blu-ray Disc: Columbia Pictures, MGM, Disney, Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox (Columbia Pictures and MGM are owned by Sony Pictures)." [Wikipedia]

HD-DVD is also supported by NEC Corporation, Microsoft, and Intel. "Two Hollywood studios exclusively support HD DVD: Universal Studios and the Weinstein Company." [Wikipedia]

Four studios support both formats: Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema. [Wikipedia]

The Reuters article says: "HD-DVD machines are cheaper but Blu-ray has backing of a majority of the mainstream studios and an advantage in that the format is compatible with the PlayStation 3, the latest version of Sony's popular series of video game consoles."

However, thus far, Blu-ray has blocked the porn industry from manufacturing discs in that format. If the porn industry chooses to throw its weight behind HD-DVD, it may change the balance of power in the battle for hegemony.

The article claims that, thirty years ago, VHS won out over Betamax "in part because of the adult film industry, and now some see blue movies playing a key role again as backers of HD-DVD and Blu-ray maneuver to make their formats the standard."

Stay tuned . . .


Peter L. Winkler said...

As a longtime videophile, I can tell you that VHS trumped Beta because of features. The first Betamax only recorded 1 hour on a cassette while VHS recorded/played 2 hours per casette. One can see how important this would be for the user who wanted to tape a movie or sporting event, especially when blank tape was a lot more expensive.

I've heard people attribute the success of VCRs to the availability of porn in the privacy of one's home. I've never heard that porn producers threw their weight behind the VHS format. Frankly, it doesn't make sense, as a producer would want to have their product available to as many viewers as possible.

Maya Reynolds said...

Peter: There was an interesting article written in 1988 and published in Videofax on the reasons why Beta failed. Like you, it didn't attribute a long of power to porn. Here's the link:



Peter L. Winkler said...

Holy cathode ray tube, Batman! You read Videofax? I have three issues from the late '80s that I bought at the late, lamented Dave's Video in Studio City, CA.

Thanks for the link.


Maya Reynolds said...

Peter: Don't give me too much credit. I found the link to the article while I was doing research on VHS vs Betamax.