I saw an interesting article at TWICE today entitled "How DTS Envisions Its Future
." In it, DTS Chairman/CEO Jon Kirchner is cited as saying the company's future growth will come from products using its Play-Fi wireless-multiroom system, the increasing use of HD Radio in cars, and mobile devices with DTS audio technology. By contrast, revenues from home A/V products, game consoles, and Blu-ray players and discs are declining.
In one quote, Kirchner says that in 2015, "we experienced greater than expected softness in Blu-ray and home A/V. These markets are in long-term decline. However, a delay in transition to next-generation [DTS:X] technology has also negatively impacted these markets last year."
Speaking of which, several major studios have committed to releasing Ultra HD Blu-ray titles with DTS:X soundtracks, and several Blu-ray discs are now available with the company's immersive format, including Ex Machina, American Ultra, and The Last Witch Hunter. In addition, DTS says there will be more than 60 DTS:X-capable AVRs, pre/pros, and even soundbars from many different brands by the end of 2016, though there are few in the market yet.
Deployment of DTS:X in commercial cinemas has been fairly slow as well, with 12 movies released in 2015. (By contrast, there were 49 titles released with Dolby Atmos last year.) Four titles have been released in China this year, and six Hollywood films are scheduled to have DTS:X soundtracks so far. But where can these soundtracks be heard? Kirchner says there are more than 70 screens that feature or are committed to feature DTS:X—a very small number compared to Dolby Atmos, which is now or soon to be available in over 1600 commercial-cinema rooms worldwide.
With such a late start, can DTS:X catch up with Dolby Atmos in commercial cinemas and home theaters? Will the dominance of DTS-HD Master Audio on Blu-ray help DTS:X become common on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs? Only time will tell, but if the revenues from home A/V and Blu-ray continue to decline, it seems the company has an uphill battle on its hands unless other parts of its business can take up the slack.
For example, Play-Fi is one area of expected growth, even after several manufacturers pushed back the release date of their compatible products due to technical issues. According to DTS, Klipsch and Rotel have "selected Play-Fi to be their wireless solution," and Dish Network is working on integrating the technology into its Hopper DVR with a Dish Music app that turns the Hopper into a Play-Fi music zone.
But can Play-Fi catch up to the likes of Sonos and the myriad "Sonos-like substances" as my friend and industry consultant Mike Heiss calls similar systems? Granted, unlike Sonos and many of the other "substances," Play-Fi is not manufacturer-specific and could be implemented in products from a wide range of companies, which is a definite advantage. But is it too little too late? As my wife's grandmother used to say, if you live a little longer, you'll find out.