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Despite Blu-ray Disc's momentum, adult video still likes HD DVD

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 Disc battle.

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 co-chairman in 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.





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