Blu-ray &Entertainment &Software Steven Kippel on 22 Aug 2007

Update: Paramount CTO explains decision

Update: Paramount CTO explains decision
Published today on PC World is an interview with Alan Bell, the CTO of Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment. Bell explains why Paramount and DreamWorks Animation decided to drop Blu-ray support. It is basically described the same as Blockbuster’s decision. They gave both formats a year and decided HD DVD was the future. The difference is that Blockbuster sided with the format that the consumer was renting more, and Paramount with the format that was selling less. Paramount’s own titles were selling over twice the number on Blu-ray as they were on HD DVD.

Why would a studio chose the format that only had 32% of their high-def business? Bell says it was a technical decision they made after they had a year of development experience. “When you look at what the DVD Forum has specified as required, it’s a good set of advanced technologies. You can be assured that that benefit will be available to all consumers, no matter what [player] model they purchased. That speaks to the DVD Forum, that it published specs that were complete and market-ready, and that it didn’t need to publish up [and change the specs], as Blu-ray has. To some degree, [such changes are] going to create some legacy issues.”

Paramount PicturesMr. Bell makes a case very similar to that expressed by Universal Studios President Craig Kornblau. Interactivity on HD DVD is more mature than BD-Java, and the Toshiba players are cheaper than the Blu-ray offerings. He cited a few other reasons including “manufacturability, the reliability of players, the cost, the infrastructure that’s developed to support our creation of titles.”

I hope for Paramount’s sake that they chose the right path. I’ve been hearing some rumors about certain directors, producers and studio executives upset with the decision. None of these rumors have been substantiated by a legitimate source so I don’t know if there is anything to them. I think the company that benefits most (initially) from this decision is Samsung, with their upcoming dual-format player. We’ll see about that in a couple months.

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