Despite all the talk regarding Blu-ray
Disc's momentum after Warner Bros. gave its support exclusively to the format, the
high-definition format war is far from over. With the overall high-definition
market barely a drop in the bucket when compared to DVD sales, there is still a
lot of ground still to be claimed.
Analysts looked early to the adult industry as a strong decider
of the format war. The adult industry is often
credited with giving VHS its support, helping the format to edge out Betamax –
and some believe that history may repeat itself with the HD DVD and Blu-ray
Digital Playground founder and director Joone originally
backed HD DVD, but at this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo he reportedly told
German publication Heise Online that his company will be
shifting its support to Blu-ray Disc by the end of the year. Joone also said that Blu-ray Disc movies were selling better
than HD DVD, a fact that he attributes to the PlayStation 3.
When reached for comment regarding the report, Digital
Playground media relations denied its validity, saying, “This is not accurate.
We are currently supporting both formats, HD and Blu-ray.”
Another statement from Digital Playground received by a member of the High-Def Digest forum expands further, reading, “We are currently producing both HD DVD and Blu-ray. HD DVD is still a viable
market for us and we’re selling a lot of units. There are over a million players
out there, so it may be perceived as ‘dead’ in the long term, but on an
immediate basis, it’s still a viable market. We will continue to grow our
Blu-ray business as well, and for us, it’s going to be a smooth transition if we
have to go from one to the other. For the time being, we will continue to
release our movies on HD DVD. We have a good, solid customer (HD DVD) base that
is buying a healthy quantity, so until that number starts coming down, we will
continue supporting it.”
Digital Playground isn't the only adult film studio currently in the high-def arena. Vivid Entertainment Group, the world’s largest adult film producer,
expressed to DailyTech plans to stick with HD DVD on grounds of the format’s economic strengths.
“Currently Blu-ray is very expensive to encode and
replicate. It probably won't be embraced by the adult industry until the price
is lowered,” Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, told DailyTech. “We will continue to consider
[Blu-ray Disc] for some of our blockbuster titles and also continue to produce
in HD DVD."
Hirsch’s comments underscore an ongoing concern in the adult
film industry: cost. “With DVD sales down as much as 50 percent for some
companies, it's difficult to fund new product based on current sales,” said
Kathee Brewer, former editor of AVN
Online and now an independent analyst and consultant. “So the price of new
endeavors becomes a huge issue.”
While producing an HD DVD product requires only minor
changes to a standard DVD production line, making a Blu-ray Disc is a much more
expensive undertaking since it commands new hardware, analysts from the adult entertainment industry explained.
Although the Blu-ray Disc Association loosened
its restrictions on the production of adult content, film producers like Steven Hirsch had to find his own facilities to press movies on that
particular format. “Sony is not giving any assistance in the authoring or
replication of adult content on Blu-ray,” said the Vivid Entertainment
a previous interview.
Now that there are a greater number of Blu-ray Disc
replication houses, companies such as Vivid Entertainment and Digital
Playground may find it easier to publish its content in blue boxes. One
obstacle, besides cost, preventing the adult industry from making a stronger
push to Blu-ray Disc is piracy.
“Now there are a few replicators in Asia, who’ll touch adult,
but sending masters to the people who are notorious for contributing to the
piracy problem is a lot like handing the chickens over to the fox with your
blessing,” explained Brewer.
Unlike with VHS and Betamax, it appears that the
format war of current day won’t be decided by the adult film industry.