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Blu-Con 2.0 Conference Coverage Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 November 2009
Article Index
Blu-Con 2.0 Conference Coverage
Coverage Continued

This Tuesday, the second Blu-Con conference was held in Beverly Hills, California.  Blu-Con is entirely dedicated to the topic of Blu-ray and its potential future within the movie, hardware, software, gaming and retail industries.   We jumped at the chance to attend, especially with all the underlying conversations about digital delivery versus Blu-ray adoption.  We were very interested in hearing how the current state of the economy had altered the adoption rate of Blu-ray and what the industry experts expected to see in the coming months / years.

The conference kicked off with an opening from the DEG (Digitial Entertainment Group) president about what he expected to see this holiday season; namely $99 Blu-ray players and a higher attach rate of Blu-ray disc purchases.  There are currently 12 million U.S. homes with Blu-ray players and title sales have already risen about 83% over the past quarter.   He also discussed Blu-ray to DVD comparisons, specifically a 54% increase in Blu-ray hardware purchases over those how see a side by side comparison to DVD.

Mike Vitelli, Best Buy’s VP of consumer electronics, came up on the stage next to highlight what Best Buy has seen this year.   With 65% of American households using at least one high definition television, Vitelli predicts that Blu-ray hardware owners are going to climb to 20 million homes by the end of the shopping season.   He also predicted that number will double to 40 million by the end of 2010.  Vitelli also stressed the need for further education of Blu-ray technology. 

68% of Best Buy customers were still unfamiliar with Blu-ray.  Additionally, customers are continually confused about the content, device compatibility and digital connectivity.   According to Vitelli, if Blu-ray will follow the same sharp increase that VHS and DVD saw after the first 5 years of their existence, Blu-ray education needs to ramp up considerably.

Studio Presidents

The next panel brought up several heavy hitters, the studio presidents of Fox, Sony, Universal and Warner.  These guys were surprisingly jovial, despite the lagging Blu-ray sales for the year.   The group agreed that the decline in DVD sales was somewhat irreversible, due to the current state of the economy, increase of other options in the marketplace and saturation of DVD adopters.  They also attributed the convenience of rental options to the drop in DVD sales.  Interestingly, there have been more digital copies from Blu-ray discs that offer that option than overall digital delivery sales.

They also lamented about the problems with cable delivery of their movies.  They attributed the limited adoption of that technology to a poor user interface across the majority of cable companies and that most consumers aren’t looking in that section of the menu until all other options have been exhausted.   They continued to weigh in on Blu-ray, highlighting a 10% penetration in the market to ramp into mass adoption.   Currently the conversion rates is the highest on Blu-ray action adventure titles and the panel all agreed that Blu-ray 3D won’t be ready for the marketplace until late 2010.  When asked about digital delivery, the panel was cautiously quiet.  They did mention the possibility of digital kiosks (similar to Red Box units) that would load a digital version of the movie on your portable device.

Martin Scorsase Live Interview

After the studio heads wrapped up, the live interview of Martin Scorsase was set to begin.  Scorsase was there to highlight what he thought of Blu-ray as well as how he progressed as a movie collector throughout his lifetime.  He mentioned collecting movie posters before any collectible movie formats even existed.  He recalled the confusion on aspect ratios when DVD came out and how it changed the home movie watchers experience from VHS. 

He sees Blu-ray as the most effective replication of the actual movie experience, due to the resolution of the discs and the availability of uncompressed audio tracks.  He mentioned that his favorite Blu-ray disc was The Searchers and that, when making a movie, he ponders how the special features on the disc will influence budding filmmakers.  According to him, the way the supplements are presented should direct avid filmmakers into learning about different styles of film.  He was also very tickled that his 10 year old daughter couldn’t tell the difference between a 50 year old film and a recent one due to the resolution of Blu-ray and the remastering of old film transfers.



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