What's Happening with Blu-Ray?

So, I see the Blu-Ray discs in the stores, but just how well is this technology selling? It does not appear that DVDs have lost market value since the intro of Blu-Ray technology. And, is Blu-Ray technology really better than your ordinary DVD? Is Blu-Ray’s advantages best seen with a HDTV? (Is it akin to Beta vs. VHS? If so, I sure couldn’t tell a difference. And, neither could anyone else I guess based on Beta eventually losing out.)

Last, why is Disney packaging Blu-Ray discs with the DVD equal? (Who would be so obsessed with technology to justify paying more just to have a movie in two formats?)

The problem with the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD war was that it came too late for much of anyone to care about it, right on the cusp of HD digital delivery.

Very few people realized, even while taking sides in the war, that there was absolutely no difference between the two formats except the physical layer. Same data in almost entirely the same format using much the same decoders and hardware after the optical read was done. HD-DVD would have been a more sensible upgrade overall but Sony had more effective (99% bullshit) marketing.

The upscaling DVD players also took the wind out of HD’s sales. Any recent movie, especially a digitally mastered or remastered one, could look near-HD quality with upscaling. In the end, there was no compelling reason to replace an existing library, and less reason to buy HD discs. So like so many technological battles, the war ended with a mild shrug of who-cares.

Pricing on discs also has almost nothing to do with content. It may cost, oh, fifty cents more for all the time and trouble and data storage and so forth of HD video vs SD, but a DVD of a new movie is still $20 while the BR is $30 because that’s where the market has settled. Has no more to do with the cost of the deliverables than the cost of paper in a book.

Sony didn’t win the disk war, they won the player war. Philips does not really have a noticable presence with hardware and could not compete when Sony has thier own electronics line plus had the Playstation to push blu-ray with.

In essence, it really was Beta v. VHS all over again. Blu-ray and VHS both won by getting players in to homes cheaper and faster.

…and porn. VHS and Blu-ray both won the porn race.

Amateur Barbarian pretty much covered it.

Online, instant delivery of video is a direct competitor, unlike 15 years ago when online was mostly dialup and DVDs had distinct advantages. BluRay isn’t likely to get any faster or have more storage with existing equipment, but Internet delivery will get faster and the cloud, bigger.

I think BluRay will hang in there for a while. I bought a burner and some blank discs 6 months ago, but haven’t used either yet. Maybe I won’t, but the longer I wait, the less likely I am to install it.

It was anything but. There were considerable technical differences between Beta and VHS - Beta had a marginally better resolution*, VHS had signficantly better length**, both moved towards a center before Beta ran out of gas.

There was no difference AT ALL between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray except the physical layer of each type of disc. Same content. Same resolution(s). Much the same encoder tech. Absolutely indistiguishable at the screen and speakers, and largely identical at the control-features level as well. That one format had, at the very beginning, some fancier programming options and the other had potential for greater capacity, was utterly irrelevant as Blu-Ray absorbed all the “live add-ins” tech and HD-DVD had no real barrier to ~50GB capacities. It was absolutely 100% a marketing war.

You’re right in that the Playstation BR capacity was probably the tipping point, putting BR in the hands of millions of users who might not have otherwise made that choice (or that early purchase).

  • VHS had about 180 line resolution. Beta had about 200. Later versions of both pushed it to about 220. Broadcast is 480, so all the furious arguing and butthurt was over whether 42% of broadcast quality was better than 38% of same.

** 2 hours, well over most movies’ length, vs. 1 hour for Beta - meaning movies had to come on two tapes or more.

It was like asking which is the best propellor plane in the era of jets.

Online streaming is the future. I can watch a show on my smartphone, why would I bother with something like a disc.

Since the format war aspect has been covered, I’ll touch on some other questions raised.

DVD sales are nowhere near their peak, and while Blu-Ray (BD) sales have increased, the combined total sales of DVD + BD is still far lower than it was in the early 2000s. The combination of the rise of streaming video (as noted in the thread) as well as the natural tapering of the big fad for building a personal library of video sparked by sell-through prices far lower than the bad old days of $100 VHS titles. The DVD crash was a combination of a few factors (IMO fatigue of people who got jaded with collecting after a while and financial distress, as well as a few people waiting for the HD format war to resolve while holding off on DVD purchases so they wouldn’t have to upgrade) and the actual beginning of the crash predates viable online streaming.

As of right now, DVD holds approximately 70% of the home video market, BD 30% (approximately 95% DVD/5% BD in 2008, 87.5%/12.5% 2009, 85%/15% 2010, 80%/20% 2011, 75%/25% 2012). Spikes in BD sales occur at the release of major new titles (and in some short time periods, the sales of BDs are 50/50 with DVD); because of DVD’s far deeper back catalogue, day-to-day sales still favor that format, but as BD back catalogue grows, the BD share should continue to slowly rise. So DVD has lost market share to BD, but the total home video market has lost market share to streaming, PPV, and renting.

IMO, BD does best DVD handily, though the difference between the two is less impressive than the difference between VHS and DVD (but more impressive than the difference between LD and DVD). Unless someone invests in a decent-sized TV with high enough resolution, the difference might not be as noticeable. A large number of people dumped CRT for mid-size 720p TVs a few years ago, and continue using them. Assuming an identical movie well-mastered on both formats: an anamorphic DVD and a BD really aren’t going to be much different on a 32" 720p set. (Does anyone even make 720p any more? Or 1080i?) A bit clearer picture, maybe better sound if they have bothered to set up a sound system, which many don’t. However, on a 55" 1080p set, the difference is immediately apparent. DVDs have noticeable artifacts, the picture is lower resolution, etc. BD is crystal clear, doesn’t get the blocky artifacts. So, yes, BD does benefit over DVD from being on an HDTV.

As for the Disney DVD/BD combo packs… there are a bunch of different ways to try to explain it. Actually pressing a DVD or BD is cheap, so these packages don’t cost to much more to manufacture. They enable a store or studio to release a single package that caters to users of either format. They enable people who use both formats (BD in the living room, DVD in the kid’s room or car) to be able to watch the movie wherever.

In practice, of course, the studios and stores think these sorts of things are 'luxe and price them accordingly knowing they can snag collectors. Disney’s especially bad about this, as their big titles tend to get a slew of different SKUs (DVD, BD, DVD + BD in BD box, DVD + BD in DVD box, DVD + BD + 3D BD). Single-format editions get bare bones packaging and bland cover artwork, while combo packs get better packaging and artwork to woo the fans… with an MSRP to grab a few extra bucks. And, again in practice, usually the “extra” discs go unused or simply given away. (I only watch DVD, my friend hasn’t upgraded to HD yet… hey, want this otherwise useless spare DVD copy of The Avengers for free?)

Beta/VHS, I assume you mean.

I don’t know that streaming will ever replace local media; even the best Hulu signal has glitches and compression artifacts that a well-mastered disc doesn’t. That may not matter in the high-noise, constant-distraction, frequently-interrupted smartphone viewing world, but trying to watch glitchy, ragged stuff when it matters on a 50-inch screen is annoying.

Certainly my disc-buying has dropped to about one a year (from perhaps 70-100 at its peak), though. We may never see a significant replacement for Blu-Ray as a general media hard-medium.

Why would I bother to pay over and over every time I want to watch something rather than buying it once and having it available for the foreseeable future?

You’re so stuck in the 'Oughts. :slight_smile:

You can purchase streaming movies now, on several services, and watch them as many times as you want - even simultaneously on different devices. You can “convert” movies you own on DVD or BR to streaming-library movies for a few dollars each. There’s even a move towards a universal streaming vault, UltraViolet, which in theory crosses the individual commercial entities (so if Vudu goes out of business, you could still get to your virtual library through Netflix or Amazon).

I don’t know that I’m completely convinced - we’ve bought only one streaming movie that stubbornly refused to become available in any rental form - but that’s the direction of things.

In the beginning, xa, 2005, YouTube was 320x200, 5fps, with hi-compression, blocky video. What happened? They got better. Do you think that Hulu will remain frozen in 2005 specs?

Blu-Ray will. The players cannot be upgraded as easily as Hulu customers can. And once technology advances to the point where they can, who cares? We have the Internet!

Or I can buy the movies on disc and, using a program I bought for $10, rip them to MP4 movie files and load them on my phone, my tablet, my computer ad infinitum as many devices as I choose. And still have them to play on my big-screen as well, without worrying about the internet going out in the middle of a movie. And I can watch them on airplane flights or where there’s not a good cell signal or wifi as well, whenever I want.

I’d still pick a Blu-Ray disc over Youtube for any video shown on my 46" television though. Likewise for when I stream stuff to my TV from Netflix or HBO or Xfinity’s (internet) streaming service. It’s all watchable and enjoyable but it’s no where close to using local physical media.

That’s all internet only – streaming stuff directly through the HD cable TV service is much better, obviously.

The most popular tape size for Beta was L750, which held 90 minutes at BI, 3 hours at BII, and 4.5 hours at BIII. The only movies that took more than one tape were exceptionally long.

VHS’s T120 tape was 2,4, or 6 hours at SP, LP, and SLP respectively.

The original Beta tapes were limited to 60 minutes and it was several years before that limit was exceeded in commercially-available tapes.

Actually, the porn industry went with HD-DVD originally.

As did all of us who thought the sensible choice would win out.

I still have two HD-DVD decks and about 20 movies, 15 of which I picked up with the decks for $100 to insure my purchase of 5 HD-DVD movies.

Blu-ray won because the name sounds cooler. HD-DVD has five clunky syllables, and saying it out loud makes you grin like a moron.

America is spoiled with their infinite internet and multiple streaming options. Here in my part of the world* we’re burdened by severe download limits, precious few catch-up TV options, most of them very sporadic and online only, and with no streaming movie systems (that I’m aware of). We have five free-to-air networks overflowing with shitty Reality shows, with only a few secondary side-channels broadcasting in HD, and just one cable provider.

So for us BluRay discs are the only option to see movies in HD, but SD really is still perfectly excellent for most purposes. I’ll buy comedies and dramas in SD, and only spectacular action or some animated movies in HD, and even then only if they’re reduced in price a few months after release.

*Australia, if you still don’t know

I know we’re discussing disc HD, but OTA (broadcast) HD is exclusively either 720p or 1080i, mostly the former. I can’t speak for cable or satellite television, but I’d expect similar deployment. So, yes, there’s plenty of 720p and 1080i around, just not on plastic disks.