Walmart drops HD-DVD in favour of Blu-Ray
Published by John Torvi on February 16, 2008

This week, Walmart announced that it would be pulling it's HD-DVD players and discs in favour of the Blu-Ray format, which has to some extent cheaper players. To many this is a signal that the HD-DVD format has been handed it's death sentence. Toshiba, HD-DVD's main proponent, continues to campaign for the format in the hope that it's players offer better value and consistent quality for the consumer.

But are consumers going to put up with Walmart's decision to discontinue it's support of two video formats now to just one? The large majority of people that want to own their movies, rather than rent, are families with children who may watch the same movie many times and the individuals who would like to have their own film collection. Walmart's market isn't the high end consumer either – the average Walmart customer in North America is in a middle to lower income bracket and thus always in search of a good deal. It would seem that Walmart is banking on the hope that it's customers have the income to sustain buying a new player and possibly replace the discs which are in a soon to be outdated format.

For the people that remember the battle between VHS and Beta oh so long ago, this battle seems to be very familiar. People with the outdated Beta video recorders, which in fact produced a superior quality image to the VHS standard, were gradually converted to the VHS video recording format.

There are some differences in the battle of VHS and Beta and the high definition disc formats of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. In terms of the technology that is currently available and in the culture in which these technologies are used.

HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are not the only video formats available in the world today, as it was in the times of VHS and Beta. The Internet and the evolution of computer-based video has allowed for a larger number of encoding formats and delivery options in the marketplace. Formats such as Quicktime, Flash video, DivX, and Windows Media are either already installed on Macs and PCs, or are free to download.

Video content creation is now ubiquitous; in the hands of the large production houses and the basement cinema creator. The latest blockbuster movie trailer from Apple competes with the latest heavy metal drum solo on YouTube. And I don't believe that it will be long before HD becomes common place on YouTube. DivX's Stage 6 site already offers user uploaded content of HD quality.

So what are the lessons learned from this?

Stating the obvious - video is now an accessible and important medium - it has the ability to quickly illustrate concepts and stories that which may take thousands of words to describe. User generated content has allowed everyone to have their own voice in this medium. Quality video editing and encoding software is now within the consumer price range. And even smaller companies can create professional content to reach a worldwide audience with smaller budgets.

There is a larger, more diverse set of niche “channels” (cable, satellite and on the Internet) all vying for their consumer's dwindling attention span. The successful producers in this evolving medium stay connected with their audience and create bold interesting content that keeps their audience watching.

There are a myriad of formats to service a multitude of differing customers and needs, and there is always a new format on the horizon. New encoding formats may have a shorter time to prove themselves in a market which has too many options to sustain all of them.

In this era of ever evolving format and delivery options it is important to be able to deliver visual content in a variety of formats to help to deliver your message.

Deciding what formats and platforms you'll support ahead of time in pre-production will insure the largest audience spectrum possible and make you format neutral. Able to agilely respond to the market's evolving format foray.

Satu Creative Technology offers affordable encoding services to it's clients using the current encoding formats that are available for on-line and off-line distribution. Call us today!

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