Love it or hate it (I hate it, for the record), DRM is a factor in the content market. Studios have been reluctant to release their content without some form of DRM. That armor is starting to show some cracks, with EMI’s switch to non-DRM music releases. But the video market hasn’t shown any shift yet, especially for the high-definition releases.
Both BD and HD DVD use AACS (Advanced Access Content System) for DRM. However, AACS has been repeatedly cracked over the past few months, allowing HD DVD and BD content to be ripped from the discs and redistributed. This has made studios nervous, and is believed to have slowed down the pace of releases.
One of the reasons BD has more studio support is that, in addition to AACS, Blu-ray offers two additional layers of security – BD+ and ROM Mark. ROM Mark is really aimed at curbing industrial level mass piracy by making it hard to duplicate BD discs. But BD+ is aimed at the more basic level of ripping content off of discs.
However, BD+ hasn’t actually been available for use – until now. BD+ Technologies, LLC has started licensing the technology to studios to use on new releases. It is widely believed that studios such as Fox, MGM, and Disney, which have previously spoken out in favor of BD+ as a factor in their choice of BD over HD DVD, have been holding back catalog titles until BD+ is available. With it now being available, it is hoped that the pace of BD releases will pick up, making more titles available for users. Disney has already announced that Sleeping Beauty will hit BD in 2008. This could be another factor increasing BD sales.
On another note, TVPredictions.com is reporting information from the research firm Digital Entertainment Group.
DEG says the 1.5 million Blu-ray homes include about 100,000 standalone Blu-ray players with the rest PlayStation 3 game consoles, which include Blu-ray players inside.
The research firm says there 300,000 HD DVD homes in the United States — evenly split between standalone players and HD DVD XBox 360 attachment drives.
So there are five homes with BD for each home with HD DVD – and that’s not counting computer drives, where BD has also had a lead. I think it is notable that HD DVD has only sold 50,000 more standalone players than BD (150,000 to 100,000) even being first to market and with a significant price advantage. As BD continues to close the pricing gap, any advantage for the standalone HD DVD players will shrink. Of course, the real powerhouse has been the PS3 – I said the PS3 would be the key factor in this war the day Sony announced it would include Blu-ray.
It looks like we may start seeing inexpensive Chinese BD players before too long as well. And another studio has announced they’re BD exclusive: Exoptron. OK, I have never heard of them either, and they seem to be a pretty small outfit with titles like Olive Oil & Med Diet and Spirulina: The Astronauts Nutrition. Blockbusters, these aren’t.