Quick Intro: The blue wars are on!
The war between the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD formats is still in full swing. Each next generation format camp has heavy hitting supporters from powerful tech companies around the world. Each side of the war also has their fans, supporters, proponents and dedicated enthusiasts. Debates, opinions and arguments are flying all over the net over who will “win” this next generation format war.
The replication cost issue
I decided to take a look at one of the oldest standing issues in the blue laser format wars, the difference in cost between Blu-ray and HD DVD disc production (also known as replication). The topic of Blu-ray vs HD DVD production cost has long been a highly debated and frequently brought up issue in the format battle. HD DVD supporters are quite often found stating that “Blu-ray costs more” to manufacture than HD DVD. But how much more and why does Blu-ray have an increased cost? The reason most often put forward is that “Blu-ray production requires completely new hardware”, while HD DVD media can be produced by modifying existing DVD manufacturing hardware. But is there a significant cost difference? Is Blu-ray replication really that much more expensive than HD DVD replication? I certainly did not believe that Blu-ray was 3 or 4 times more expensive than HD DVD, as claimed by Vivid Entertainment. I spoke with optical disc industry contacts and researched online to find the following Blu-ray vs HD DVD replication costs. The results might surprise you.
HD DVD replication vs Blu-ray replication at Plant #1
My confidential industry source revealed that one large replication company is currently charging approximately $1.15 per single layer HD DVD (15GB) and $1.30 per single layer Blu-ray Disc (25GB), assuming a quantity of 25,000. For comparison purposes, a run of 25,000 Dual Layer DVD (DVD9) discs would cost about $0.50 per disc at this same facility. DL HD DVD (30GB) was right inline with SL Blu-ray (25GB) pricing, but an exact figure was not provided. This translates to a cost of approximately $0.077 per GB on HD DVD SL media and $0.052 per GB on Blu-ray SL media.
Blu-ray replication costs Plant #2 (Blu-ray only)
I received quotes on Blu-ray single layer (25GB) replication at plant #2 between $1.35-$1.45 USD per disc on runs of 25K or more. Blu-ray DL (50GB) was quoted between $2.15 – $2.25 per disc on a 25,000 quantity run. Taking the high end on this range, this translates to approximately $0.045 per GB for Blu-ray DL media.
Blu-ray replication vs HD DVD replication reseller costs (ProActionMedia)
One of the only replication companies that actually lists their pricing publicly is ProActionMedia and we found the following replication costs listed on their website. Their prices were significantly higher than the private, customer-only quotes that we received from the other 2 replication plants. I have included images here that break down the ProActionMedia pricing for Blu-ray and HD DVD.
Sticking with the 25,000 run quantity, we can see that ProActionMedia is quoting $1.59 per disc for Blu-ray SL (25GB), $1.45 per HD DVD SL (15GB) and $1.69 per HD DVD DL (30GB). This translates to approximately $0.064 per GB for Blu-ray SL, $0.097 per GB for HD DVD SL and $0.056 per GB for HD DVD DL.
Cost comparison conclusions
From these figures taken from 3 different replication sources, we can see that Blu-ray media replication does not cost significantly more than HD DVD. In fact, we found that Blu-ray is actually cheaper per GB in many situations! It is also interesting to note that at this point, most HD DVD-ROM movies are DL, while most BD-ROM movies are SL, which would make HD DVD more expensive to replicate in most situations. I did not include fees associated with authoring, setup, AACS protection, packaging and other costs in the quotes above, so keep in mind that the final cost of replicating an HD DVD or Blu-ray disc will definitely be a bit higher than the per disc pricing noted above. Also, according to our sources, the Blu-ray setup fee is only slightly more than the HD DVD setup fee, but it depends on the specific manufacturing plant. Looking at these numbers and pricing information, we can now dispell the myth that Blu-ray replication is significantly more costly than HD DVD.