The ethereal Philips music is playing again. The title of today's conference: BLU-RAY DISC IN MOTION. It doesn't look like the BDA will be introducing a sex aid though (see the Philips Press Conference).
The clock ticks. Getting busy now...
Before we get underway, our predictions: 3D, 3D, 3D, and more 3D.
Running late. Maybe someone tripped over the HDMI cable again, like last year.
The lights are up, and here's Victor Matsuda, chairman of the BDA global promotions committee.
2009 has been a breakthrough year for BD globally. The format has reached critical mass with consumers. They are very excited about 2010.
Niels Leibbrandt will give us info on the European BD market, with sales data.
Nicholas Denissen from Amazon.de, he's giving a presentation from the retailer's point of view.
Jim Bottoms is giving us the analyst's perspective.
Then two studio reps: Rich Marty from Sony PHE who will talk about BD and BD Live.
Then Benn Carr (who's heavily involved with 3D-BD) from Disney.
Here's Neils. "Last year at IFA 08, the title was, 'The Future Was Blu'. I think that was a fair title to use at the time. This hyear, the title is 'Blu-ray Disc In Motion'."
Three drivers of growth:
* Increased availability
* Enhanced home entertainment
* BD innovation
Industry support. All the big brands support BD. Apple's logo is the first on the
list. If this were 2007, we'd have conspiracy theories already!
"No home entertainment company today can afford not to react to BD, as we recently have seen".
New BD titles intro'd daily. The range covers any genre, from action movies to children's animations (oh no you didn't) to independent productions. BD versions taking 20%+ of the market share. By the end of 2009, they expect 31m units of BD movies to have been sold. That's 3x more than last year, to put it in perspective.
Hardware: 150 BD players available from 40 brands. High end models and entry models.
Portable players, and integrated home theater systems, which the BDA believes are very important.
Stats: one in 10 homes will be enabled, and Futuresource think that 20% (1 in 5) by the end of 2011. They believe 50% of the sales will be realised in the final part of the year. BD is moving from early adopter phase well into the mainstream market.
By the 3rd year of introduction, BD is outperforming the growth of DVD. Yes, BD is growing faster than DVD, Color TV, VHS, etc. DVD is often seen as the fastest growing CE product - not any more.
The HD Gap is mentioned again, for the 3rd year in a row. Most of us with HDTVs are not watching HD broadcasts on them. Opportunity for BD to fill this gap - people will go and look for BD to enjoy their HDTV.
TV sizes and resolution are growing. Bigger demand for bigger screens = bigger demand for the titles to watch on them.
Innovation: BDA has always had the strategy to increase innovation. 62% of releases are on BD50. "Max HD Experience". 75% of players are now BD-Live capable.
Summary of part one. BD has been hugely successful so far. In the upcoming 12 months, we will see even faster uptake. Importantly, it's forecasted that 50% of player sales wll take place in the final part of the year. Get ready for a big Christmas. "A Blu Christmas", says Niels. Hilarious picture of Santa Photoshopped blu.
Amazon presentation begins.
October 30th, 2006: Amazon.de ofered the first BD, which was Lethal Weapon. Shortly afterwards, they shipped the first BD title to a customer.
Amazon discuss what they believe makes good selling.
Customers want more BD titles. Amazon.de includes over 3000 titles; this includes UK imports, says Nicholas. The DVD selection has 175,000 titles.
A quote from a customer (an E.M. Opgelder).
Customer reviews: they review the quality of the prodiuction, A reviewer from London is complaining about the letterboxing in The Dark Knight. Better save for an anamorphic projection system!
Action and animated titles are the first "Genres" for BD customers. Animation is a medium, not a genre, but we will let that slip...
More quotes from customers. I don't know if that is entirely a good idea. Customers want premium editions in high quality.
Jim Bottoms from FutureSource. It's about to get numbery!
2012: packaged media will play a huge role in terms of video content delivery and revenue for the video industry. 80% of revenues will come from packaged media.
Digital will be important, he says, but it will remain a minority. DVD peaked in revenue terms in 2006 - unit sales continued to grow, but profits were down. BD is starting to emerge as the key part of the home video mix in Eurpe. Forecasted 2012:
33% revenue from BD.
BD goes from strength to strength in Europe.
Up until now, the prime driver for BD was the Playstation3. In 2009, it is still the largest part of the install base. They forecast that next year, BD players will be achieving parity. In 2011, they estimate that standalones will dominate. Right now, PS3 owners, while they're buying video titles, they're split between games and BDs.
It's the video player owner who has a bigger appetite for BD titles.
This is a US example, player prices are falling rapidly. In the US, the cheapest BD player will be below $80 this year. We're expecting an 80 pound BD player in the UK this year - 100 Euros, probably. Of course, pirces will fall to the extent that in 2012, an entry level BD player will probably cost about $40. It will probably not be possible to buy a DVD-only player anymore. His example: try buying a CD player these days.
This will also mean that people begin to add their second machine, their third machine, their in-car machine...
Whilst buy the end of this year, 1/10 homes will have BD playback, by 2012, close to 1/3rd of homes will have BD.
The momentum is now so strong behind the BD format, it is impossible to stop.
Pricing. Up until now, consumers make a value judgment. People look at titles and decide if it's worth the premium for BD, sometimes not. Example: CASINO ROYALE BD price, 10.48. DVD 2.98. But Disney's BOLT is much smaller: 16.68 on BD vs 13.58. New release titles have a smaller "BD Premium", Catalog titles have a much larger one.
(Figures from Amazon.co.uk).
Another issue is that BD has been driven by new releases. Lower demand for catalogue titles. People are not rushing out to replace their DVDs with BDs: much of the reason is in the price premium.
The price of a new BD has fallen from £20.98 in February to £17.00 in July. Catalog has fallen from £16.72 to £13.63. Figures taken from FutureSource's price tracking.
Everything is in place now for the market to continue to expand and develop. The US is ahead. Sell through titles in million units: 2008 24m, 2009 75m. In the UK, figures are 3.7m vs 12m respectively. These are huge increases. Italy and Spain are lowest. Germany "punching ahead of its weight".
Digital vs physical. BD Hardware owners are heavy cnsumers of paid-for content.
Conception is that physical media is dying, but this is "absolutely not the case".
"The consumer wants to access video content across a variety of platofrms in a variety of formats." For instant access, a mobile phone screen will do. If it's "Dark Knight", you want to watch it on a big screen HDTV. The gist is that it is ignorant to assume that downloaded videos will do for all applications. Research shows that the same people who are buying a lot of BD are also likely to be online video buyers and also TV pay-per-view users. "It's not either or, it's a multiplatform world, and BD has a very important part to play in it".
Two other elements important for BD's future: BD-Live. The studios are tracking consumers' usage of BD-Live, "here in Europe, the German and Scandinavian consumer is above average in terms of online access". 3D is another important development in driving BD forward. One reason why HD and BD have been so successful: the TV set makers have done a great job selling HDTVs. Almost half of European homes have an HDTV. Broadcast, content and home video industries are doing their bit in driving HDTV. Together, these sectors have created a very successful HD market. One element feeds the other.
Rich Marty from Sony PHE is here to talk about BD-Live.
"Demand for high quality home entertainment is here to stay".
BD is becoming the home ent. medium of choice for people who love movies.
Standalone BD player sales are up more than 300% in Western Europe.
Why is BD doing so well? It's delivering hte best in class home entertainment. It delivers best disc-based video with online content. It is the perfect complement to HDTV. It provides advanced interactivity and added value features that movie lovers crave.
Half of BD owners want to be online at all times. Serves as a differentiator from DVD and adds value to packaged media, "keeping titles fresh".
90% of Euro visitors are either very or somewhat likely to access BD-Live on other titles and are more likely to buy BD-Live titles.
Starting in December, there will be a FIFA (football) portal which will be accessible from BD-Live discs.
Gracenote-powered movie database called MovieIQ. Rich believes it's BD Live's first killer app. This lets us know, "Who's that actor? What's that song? Where was this filmed" during the film.
A video demonstrating MovieIQ plays. It will be available to other content providers too - not just Sony PHE titles.
Rich closes by saying that BD is the best way to watch movies at home, ever.
3D is now discussed. The BDA has started a "3D Task Force", tasked with coming up with the best way of incorporating 3D into the BD format. Benn Carr from Disney is here to talk about 3D. Victor interviews with him.
"Thanks for coming all the way from Disneyland. Why are we seeing such interest in 3D?"
"Market demand. Theatrical consumers are saying they like 3D and want more of it. About 8 properties out in 3D. Consumers want more."
"It's not that we're seeing 3D for the first time. Why now? Why do they want more now?"
"In a word, technology. So, digital cinema has enabled us to do some things theatrically that we couldnt' do before. Digital cinema enabled 3D theatrically, BD will enable it in the home."
"There are other distribution platforms. Your take?"
"Right, so, we're talking about things possible with BD and home entertainment. You'll see 3D delivery via other channels like IP and broadcast. Inherent bandwidth limitations mean that BD will be the premium delivery channel."
"OK. Speaking of the BDA's work going on, the BDA is obviously not responsible for manufacturing products, so what is BDA's work on 3D?"
"The BDA is a format development group. Our job is to create - just as we did with 2D on BD - create a set of guidelines and specs to enable manfuacturers to build 3D Players. The board of directors charged the task force with creating a set of recommendations. Priorities: 1080p HD per eye. Interactivity. Very importantly - backward compatibility with 2D product".
"Explain backwards compatibility?"
"Consumers expect that 2D product plays in 3D players and they want to play a 3D disc on a 2D player, and at least get the basic 2D stream from it. New players should play the old product, most certainly".
"Can you give us more info on where you are with this process?"
"The board of directors created a task force, charged them with creating a set of guidelines - an outline for 3D. That task force, working with CE, IT companies, created that framework. We also worked with other tech groups, eg HDMI, MPEG, the DisplayPort group, in creating a set of guidelines. That work was unanimously approved, so it's gone to the tech groups who will actually create and publish the specifications. Those are due in December of 2009, enabling product to be built. BDA does not build product but licenses the spec to be built within 2010".
"Target date for spec completion - end of year, which enables product next year?"
"Yes, so far."
"So everything is going smoothly?"
That concludes the main portion. Q&A now?
Q: "Can I just be clear that I heard Benn Carr - there is a comittment that old players, including PS3s, will give 2D playback of new 3D discs?"
A: So the attention of the format is to enable a single bitstream to extract a 2D version of that movie off the disc. THis is something that may or may not be enabled by the content authoring. It can be enabled or disabled depending on the content owner's strategies. The requirement is that the player is ABLE to do so. That is the intention. The spec has not been finalized. That is one of the topline requirements.
Q: "Saying that it depends on the authoring - will there be some kind of requirement for clear labelling on the disc if it is a 3D only disc?"
A: Hasn't been discussed, but I can put my Disney hat on for a moment; we clearly want the consumer to know what they're purchasing. That's simply a market requirement.
Q: "Yes, I have 2 tech questions. I know the spec is not ready yet, but: will it be necessary to buy a new 3D BD Player, or can we play them on a Playstation 3 in 3D?
And, are you looking for one specific technical playback device that the user needs, shutter glasses, polarized, or will this be indepdent?"
A: I have to be careful not to speak to Sony, but it isn't inconceivable that an existing device - depending on how it's built - could be upgraded to play the new 3D stream. I cannot warrant that this will be the case. It's up to the companies.
[My guess: the PS3 will be upgraded, as this is implemented via software, but hardware-based standalones likely will not. --David]
[Regarding glasses:] it should be possible that the glasses, etc are interchangable and not tied down.
Q: "Could you comment on network connectivity of BD players in Europe? Trends, what studios are seeing, user satisfaction?"
A: We're certainly seeing an uptake of consumers connecting the BD players.
It's fair to say that the consumer is hooking up and accessing the content, but it's probably title specific. Big action-adventure titles maybe drawing a bigger audience than a rom-com. But it's there and it's definitely generating interest.
Q: "How much capacity is needed for 3D on BD - are studios concerned it will impact on other extra features?"
A: It will certainly require more capacity. We are always trying to optimize encoding technology so we can encode the movie and fit it on a 50gb. Historically, way back, in early days of developing Blu-ray, people thought we were crazy that we'd need 50gb. And we use it. The bit budgeting that we've done so far gives us comfort that we won't compromise video quality. We've done extensive viewing tests.
Yes it will take more capacity.
For Disney, our strategy is that bonus material is desirable. Our intention is not to get rid of it. It might move to a 2nd disc. Still working that out. No compromises on video quality for sure. It will fit on a 50, we think.