Please download the PDF attachment to see the chart.
The Chart (Business):
- Separated into Bluray Camp, HDDVD Camp, and Neutral Camp.
- Summarizes the major players on their respective side.
- Major operations/assets are bolded
- Movie studios are circled with a border.
By looking at the chart, you will see who owns what, and it becomes apparent why decisions were made the way they were (in terms of which studios/CE makers is on which side/exclusivity etc.)
The History (more reasons to tell you why decisions were made the way they were):
- Sony developing Betamax, while JVC and Matsushita developing their own respective format.
- Sony tried to convince JVC and Matsushita to ditch their own development and back Betamax, but was denied.
- Sony pressed ahead and released Betamax in 1976.
- With help from Matsushita, less than a year later, JVC launched VHS.
Sony vs. Universal: The Law Suit (1976)
- In 1976, Universal together with Disney filed a lawsuit against Sony, claiming that their Betamax recording technology violates copyright laws. (Because everyone who owned a Betamax machine can tape television programs in their homes) However, the trial didnt actually begin until 1979
- Sonys Betamax was considered the more technically advanced format, but was more expensive.
- JVCs VHS did not match Betamaxs quality (however acceptable), but was the cheaper technology.
- This was the key in determining the outcome of the 80s format war. Because there were two formats, people chose to buy cheap VHS machines and rent the VHS format, trying to wait it out to see which side would win before making a purchase decision.
- When the rental boom began, for some reason there was less selection of titles on Betamax than on VHS. This, together with the cost issue, more people rented VHS than Betamax, creating a self-reinforcing effect.
- By mid-80s, Betamax was considered the loser. In 1988, Sony declared that they will start making VHS machines.
Sony vs. Universal: The Verdict (1983)
- In short, Sony won the case, and the verdict was that home users can legally record television programs for private viewing only. However, their Betamax format soon lost to VHS. The importance of this case was the definition of fair-use (as long as recordings are used privately, it does not violate copyright laws). This transformed the movie industry where home video distribution became more profitable than theatre box office.
NOW (2007) Looking from the history and business point of views:
- Universal and Sony will never co-operate on any large scale projects because they hate each other (sounds naïve, but take it for what its worth). Universal will never release on BR.
- Another reason why Universal and Sony do not get along is because of their music business. Sony Music and Universal Music are the two largest competing record labels in the world.
- Now, Microsoft obviously will not back Sony because of their PS Xbox rivalry.
- So, since MS is against Sony, Mr. Steve Jobs (biggest shareholder of Disney) will obviously go against MS (think Apple) and back Sony.
- NBC and Universal is one company. More alliances between these two can be found from MSNBC.
- Other ties between the BR exclusive studios can be found in the chart, ie. MGM, Lionsgate, Fox.
After reading up on the history, I believe you will find many similarities between todays and the last format war. What blurs things today is the computer and gaming industry. This format war JUST STARTED. It is not ending anytime soon. Buy what you like, and enjoy it while it lasts.
Some general comments:
- Lionsgate is behind BR I think its because they are relatively small and is just playing safe to go with the majority.
- A key studio here I think is Dreamworks. DW and Disney do not get along. But because Paramount owns DW, they are remaining neutral from a higher level decision made by Paramount. It would be nice if DW can jump over to HDDVD exclusive, but I dont see that happening.
- This is a very brief outline. I am sure there are mistakes in there somewhere. Feel free to correct wherever you feel necessary.
studios.pdf 11.326171875k . file