HD-DVD versus Blu-ray . . . Who Cares?

Okay, let’s start this out by throwing some gasoline on the campfire. HD-DVD? Blu-ray? Both irrelevant. I don’t want either of them. All they are is a way to display the movies I paid too much for on a ultramodern chrome-and-glass rack. Impressive to the passerby, perhaps, but ultimately meaningless.

I mean, it’s time we faced it. Hollywood doesn’t need physical media. It needs a good user interface.

Let me explain. Right now, if I want HD content, I have three choices. One, I can get it via broadcast or cable. Two, I can get it on HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. Three, I can download it on bittorrent. Yes, it’s illegal, and I wouldn’t do it, but the content is out there if you look hard enough.

Now, Hollywood doesn’t like this. In fact, some people are in a panic about the whole file sharing thing. But if you look at it, there aren’t that many people who will spend the time to get an application to download content, do the searches on the foreign search engines to find the content, and then wait days for a movie to download. It simply ain’t worth the time. And it’s entirely possible you’ll get subpoenaed.

But buying fifteen hundred dollars worth of disc players to access a couple hundred movies at $20-30 each is pretty dumb, too. Yeah, there will be more movies, and the player cost will come down, and they look nice sitting on that rack, but it’s a heck of an investment, and you can’t get all the movies from all the studios on both formats, so you have to choose wisely, and you have to wonder who’s going to win . . .

All of whichthe whole pirating thing, and the whole expensive HD media thingcould be avoided if there was a simple site with an easy-to-use way to download movies in full HD resolution, either on a subscription basis or on a pay-for-play.

But not for $25 a movie. You can’t compare a download to a physical product. And you can’t charge based on “well, if a family went to a movie, it’d cost them $50 before the $75 in popcorn.” And not locked up, or dissappearing, or any of the other crazy DRM stuff people want to pull. Fact is, I’ll happily pay for something that’s priced right. And most other people will too. Yeah, there’ll be pirates, but there would be pirates if HD-DVDs were $2.50. You just won’t convert some people.

So, I say to HD-DVD and Blu-ray: give it up. Start developing a great download model, at a fair price, and take that to the studios. Because if you won’t, someone like Netflix will.

And that’s when HD movies will really take off.

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