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This is a good read. I appreciate Universal sticking to their guns.

http://www.philly.com/philly/columni...umer_win_.html


Jonathan Takiff | Universal's gamble: Will consumer win?


Universal Home Video's Ken Graffeo is the industry maverick by putting out content only on HD-DVDs.

THE GIZMO: Universal Home Entertainment holds the HD-DVD fort . . . and maybe the keys.

In what's shaping up as an electronics industry trial of the century - between two incompatible, high-definition video-disc formats - the holdout juror is Ken Graffeo, Universal Home Video executive vice president of HD strategic marketing. And he may very well upset the whole case.


Every other Hollywood studio (that would be Sony, Fox and Disney) is either backing the Blu-Ray high-def disc format exclusively or maintaining a Swiss-like neutrality.


In the latter camp are the likes of Warner Bros. and Paramount, issuing titles on both Blu-Ray and its close but incompatible rival, HD-DVD, and calling on other studios to do the same.


But then there's Graffeo's company. Universal Home Entertainment is the one and only "major" exclusively backing the other combatant in this trial, putting out content only on HD-DVD.


That means that if you crave a high-definition disc version of, say, "The 40 Year Old Virgin" or the futuristic thriller "Children of Men," the first season of "Heroes" (out Aug. 28), or any of the other 100-plus HD titles that Universal will deliver this year, then you've gotta accept his vision and buy an HD-DVD player.


What is this man thinking? We had to ask.


Q: I imagine the pressure on you is pretty intense when you talk with your studio peers. Having two rival formats keeps most consumers on the sidelines waiting for a winner. How do you respond to that?


A: I'd argue that this format war is actually beneficial to the consumer. A little over a year ago, the least expensive HD-DVD player was $799. Now, with Toshiba's current rebate promotion (good through June 16), you can get an HD-DVD player for as little as $299.


On the Blu-Ray side, the players started at $1,000 to $1,800 at the end of [2006] and this summer will be down to $599 with new models from Sony and Panasonic. It's the format war that's driving pricing down at such a dramatic, accelerated rate.

Q: Why did Universal opt for HD-DVD?


A: Several years ago, we looked at the technology and decided that this format would offer the better set of mandatory specifications.



From day one, every HD-DVD player made has to have an Ethernet port for online connectivity. And every player had software to support unique, interactive viewing experiences either programmed onto a disc or available online. We're exploiting this on many Universal releases.


In Blu-Ray, the interactive specs are still just an option. The only Blu-Ray player now sold with an Ethernet port is the PlayStation 3.


A lot of their players can't even support the interactive BD-Java software that's running the two new (Blu-Ray-exclusive) "Pirates of the Caribbean" titles.


[Editor's note: The balking Samsung, Philips and Sony players will eventually show the "Pirates" discs but only after a firmware upgrade.]


In fact, the Ethernet and Java specs for Blu-Ray won't be fully firmed up until Oct. 31.


That's why Warner Bros. is putting out a more sophisticated, online-connected version of "Blood Diamond" on HD-DVD, and also why they've put out "Batman Begins" and the new "Matrix" box sets first on HD-DVD.


Q: How about the manufacturing costs?


A: Also very important - and lower for HD-DVD discs and players.


When you can get below $300 for hardware, you open up the mass market. Now people are willing to jump in and buy a player.


Even if the other format were to eventually win, there's no risk. Because that HD-DVD player you buy will still play your regular DVDs and, by upconverting, will actually make the discs look better.


I can't imagine Blu-Ray getting even close to a $300 player this year. I expect their lead dog, PlayStation 3 [now $599], to drop $100, but that's it.


Q: Sales figures for Blu-Ray movie discs are significantly higher this year than for HD-DVD. How do you counter the argument that the tide has turned in Blu-Ray's favor?


A: We didn't have many hot releases in the first quarter, or many releases at all. They had some real biggies, like "Casino Royale." The fourth quarter will be telling. Our releases will be stronger, and we're looking for a big attach rate [that's disc sales per player] when people jump for an inexpensive HD-DVD machine to show off their new high-def TV set.


To that end, we're doing a lot to educate the retailers and the consumers. You know, there are now HD sets in probably 25 million households. But more than half of those owners still believe, incorrectly, that anything they plug in - including basic cable and standard-definition DVD - is going to be in "high definition" on those sets. We've got to show them what they're missing.
 

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I am surprised the interviewer did not ask the obvious question: When will Universal release movies on the Blu-ray format?


I was surprised by this comment:
Quote:
Even if the other format were to eventually win, there's no risk. Because that HD-DVD player you buy will still play your regular DVDs and, by upconverting, will actually make the discs look better.

The reasons Ken gives for supporting HD-DVD exclusively right now are due to an ethernet port being available and also BD-J not being finialized. Since BD-J will be finialized in October, I wonder what Universal will do in early 2008?


~Josh
 

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Quote:
In fact, the Ethernet and Java specs for Blu-Ray won't be fully firmed up until Oct. 31.


That's why Warner Bros. is putting out a more sophisticated, online-connected version of "Blood Diamond" on HD-DVD, and also why they've put out "Batman Begins" and the new "Matrix" box sets first on HD-DVD.

This will not make the BDA Happy


Quote:
I can't imagine Blu-Ray getting even close to a $300 player this year. I expect their lead dog, PlayStation 3 [now $599], to drop $100, but that's it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Cinema /forum/post/0

http://www.philly.com/philly/columni...umer_win_.html


Jonathan Takiff | Universal's gamble: Will consumer win?




To that end, we're doing a lot to educate the retailers and the consumers. You know, there are now HD sets in probably 25 million households. But more than half of those owners still believe, incorrectly, that anything they plug in - including basic cable and standard-definition DVD - is going to be in "high definition" on those sets. We've got to show them what they're missing.

To me the last paragraph is important for all of us invested in HD-DVD or BR. The consumer needs to understand the differences and what they are missing by not jumping into the HD resolution market. The problem is they, meaning all studio's, must put out a good software product. When we still see examples like "40 Year Old Virigin," it doesn't help anyone's position.


Ron
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by beatboy77 /forum/post/0


I am surprised the interviewer did not ask the obvious question: When will Universal release movies on the Blu-ray format?

Be grateful that question was not directly asked, you would not have liked the answer.
 

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Quote:
... there's no risk. Because that HD-DVD player you buy will still play your regular DVDs and, by upconverting, will actually make the discs look better. ...

glad this was stated. i bought an a2 for my parents becasue of the upscaling and ethernet. they have a large dvd collection.


IMO hd dvd players are more future proof then a typical dvd upscaling player and obviously more future proof then current bd players.


they had to get a new dvd player anyway because the old one wouldn't play several of the newer dvds.
 

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Do you really think the answer would have been any different than any other time a Universal rep has been asked that question? If the fourth quarter sees a significant surge in hardware and software sales for HD, I could foresee them staying exclusive for another year, which is why I am not so quick to retire the HD-A1. Everything they've said, and everything Penton has said seems to indicate they will make their decisions based on Q4. Of course, if the BDA had demanded a fully functional, finalized, non-incremental software solution for Blu-Ray, it would provide HD-only studios one less excuse to use. Regardless, it's good to be format neutral.


I think Josh feels guilty every time he fires up his Toshiba - just relax and enjoy high def, man!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Arnette /forum/post/0


Well, I have looked at the back of my Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1 and low and behold there is an Ethernet port. Amazing, Ken Graffeo says it does not exist!

Oh I guess you missed his other point - the one with the inflated cost. I guess I could have picked up a Pioneer here in Canada for $1200+.lol!
 

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Greetings


But the ethernet ports on some players are not there for interactivity ... but rather firmware stuff alone.


Regards
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Cinema /forum/post/0


Q: Sales figures for Blu-Ray movie discs are significantly higher this year than for HD-DVD. How do you counter the argument that the tide has turned in Blu-Ray's favor?


A: We didn't have many hot releases in the first quarter, or many releases at all. They had some real biggies, like "Casino Royale." The fourth quarter will be telling. Our releases will be stronger, and we're looking for a big attach rate [that's disc sales per player] when people jump for an inexpensive HD-DVD machine to show off their new high-def TV set.

Here is where Universal comes off the rails a bit... not sure what they think they'll be releasing in Q4, but Sony will, without question, have a Spiderman 3 Blu-ray disc in time for the holidays.


Really, these same old arguments have been made and they really don't hold much water. When asked "you're getting outsold by a huge amount... what do you say about that?" he glosses it over with "well, we haven't really been releasing good movies but we will though i won't tell you which ones".


Would have liked to see a more convincing argument for why I should change. my "i own both but expect Blu-ray to prevail" position.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by beatboy77 /forum/post/0


I was surprised by this comment:


The reasons Ken gives for supporting HD-DVD exclusively right now are due to an ethernet port being available and also BD-J not being finialized. Since BD-J will be finialized in October, I wonder what Universal will do in early 2008?


~Josh

Exactly. He basically, without saying so directly, concedes that the format Universal is backing is losing, despite the fact that the rival format isn't actually even finished.


What happens when it is finished?


Bad news for this guy, that's what. This guy isn't the CEO - it'll be hard for him to justify keeping his job when the CEO calls down and says "So, we backed the losing horse and are missing out on 90% of the HD home video market - why is this?"
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by oliverjg /forum/post/0


glad this was stated. i bought an a2 for my parents becasue of the upscaling and ethernet. they have a large dvd collection.


IMO hd dvd players are more future proof then a typical dvd upscaling player and obviously more future proof then current bd players.


they had to get a new dvd player anyway because the old one wouldn't play several of the newer dvds.

The most future proof HD player on the market is the PS3, and it upscales better than the A1, A2 and add-on as well. Just sayin'.


What Universal needs to focus on is quality control in their discs.I find it ironic that he condemns BD because Pirates won't play in some players when Universal is the biggest problem in this area. Their discs have the most glitches in general, but HD DVD needs to fix the audio/freezing problem or j6p will never embrace it. They'll just return it the first time it happens and tell all their friends what a POS HD DVD is.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dylanneild /forum/post/0


Here is where Universal comes off the rails a bit... not sure what they think they'll be releasing in Q4, but Sony will, without question, have a Spiderman 3 Blu-ray disc in time for the holidays.

Woopee. They'll have alot of crap too. I don't know why BD fans think the fate of HD hinges on a couple of titles aimed at children.

Quote:
Really, these same old arguments have been made and they really don't hold much water.

Yes, and we would appreciate it if you would stop repeating them.

Quote:
Would have liked to see a more convincing argument

I would too, but unfortunately, that's all you have.


J
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Arnette /forum/post/0


Well, I have looked at the back of my Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1 and low and behold there is an Ethernet port. Amazing, Ken Graffeo says it does not exist!

No, he states that it isn't mandatory for BD players to have one, whereas it is for HD DVD players. Studios won't support an optional feature, but if they know that every player out there has a feature, they will be more likely to implement features that take advantage of it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by beatboy77 /forum/post/0


I wonder what Universal will do in early 2008?

They'll probably do exactly the same thing that Disney and Fox will do... take a good hard look at the Q4 results and then decide whether to (a) remain exclusive or (b) go neutral.


And no amount of speculation or rumors from "inside sources" is going to get us at that answer in May 2007.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dylanneild /forum/post/0


Exactly. He basically, without saying so directly, concedes that the format Universal is backing is losing, despite the fact that the rival format isn't actually even finished.


What happens when it is finished?


Bad news for this guy, that's what. This guy isn't the CEO - it'll be hard for him to justify keeping his job when the CEO calls down and says "So, we backed the losing horse and are missing out on 90% of the HD home video market - why is this?"

Wow, reading between the lines much?


And you know what Universal is risking right now? Nothing. If BRD wins, they simply relese their movies on BRD. The market for HDDVD and BRD is so small the amount of sales they are losing is tiny.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fettastic /forum/post/0


The most future proof HD player on the market is the PS3, and it upscales better than the A1, A2 and add-on as well. Just sayin'.


What Universal needs to focus on is quality control in their discs.I find it ironic that he condemns BD because Pirates won't play in some players when Universal is the biggest problem in this area. Their discs have the most glitches in general, but HD DVD needs to fix the audio/freezing problem or j6p will never embrace it. They'll just return it the first time it happens and tell all their friends what a POS HD DVD is.

my parents are retired. to them the ps3 isn't even a dvd player and at $600+ it isn't even close to being an option compared to what they consider is as a dvd player.


i feel sorry for people if they really have problems with universal disks. but, i don't have problems with my a1. i tested the a2 before handing off to the parents and no problems there either.


if there were problems with the a2 i would know about it because they can't handle anything beyond pushing the play button.


i don't bother responding to threads that are started about problems because i interpret most of them (with the inflammatory titles and gross exaggerations) as bd fanboy fud. IMO the best way to deal with the fud is just not to post anything so the bogus thread titles don't keep getting bumped.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bboisvert /forum/post/0


They'll probably do exactly the same thing that Disney and Fox will do... take a good hard look at the Q4 results and then decide whether to (a) remain exclusive or (b) go neutral.


And no amount of speculation or rumors from "inside sources" is going to get us at that answer in May 2007.

Disney and Fox will see the Q4 results and wish that they had released on HD DVD.
 
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