By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hi-Def Price Wars Begin
The battle between Blu-Ray and HD seems to have, once again, been won by Blu-Ray after Warners made a decisive move. (You might remember that we were at this point right before Paramount/DreamWorks were bought on board as HD-only for a year or 18 months.)
I look for signs off the press release schedule on these things and found it when I signed onto Amazon.com and found that a HD player I had wishlished had dropped its price in half since I “wished” it. The next sign was a 53% Off Sale on HD DVD titles… though I quickly realized that these were specifically WB titles.
Today on Amazon, I find that there is now a drop on disc prices, for both formats, across the board. WB has the deepest discounting. But every disc on the site seems to be at least 30% off. The last season of Lost, which went on sale about 2 months ago, is on sale for 59% off.
It would appear that the unpress-released story is that all the studios have come to decide that the only way to make a future for hi-def DVD is to make a legitimate price argument. The difference between “regular DVD” and Blu-Ray or HD seemes to be about $7 on most new titles. On Ratatouille, it’s just $5… on Transformers, in both formats a 2-disc set, it’s just $2, as is Zodiac (another Paramount title).
Of course, nice as this is for hi-def hardware owners, the problem ahead is still price resistance to the Blu-Ray players, where the low price for a solid, web-accessible-for-upgrade player is still over $350. HD has players $100 lower… but the format is, for all intents and purposes, dead until proven living. With upscaling DVD players in the low-100s, I can see a 4200 – $250 player getting traction. But $350 is just too much for people to take a flyer on. If Sony wants to seal the deal, they need to build the low-frill $200 Blu-ray player with wi-fi for updates. And then, they’d have a real shot at gettting to 3 or 4 million units by the end of next X-mas.
And one more suggestion… Sony Home Ent should make a deal with Criterion to invest in converting that entire catalog ASAP. It may be a niche market, but it is one of the few markets where buying a $400 player is a no brainer if you can get those classic art films in the highest possible form of home delivery.