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"Living in Fear of the Niche" - editorial at High Def Digest

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"Living in Fear of the Niche" - editorial at High Def Digest

Old 11-09-07, 04:38 PM
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"Living in Fear of the Niche" - editorial at High Def Digest

Just wanted to point out Josh Z's editorial "Living in Fear of the Niche" at High Def Digest.

A quick excerpt that completely sums up the way I feel:

Not only do we have executives from multi-national electronics corporations and major Hollywood movie studios sniping at each other in tersely-worded press releases, now even the public has gotten involved, picking sides like fans of rival sports teams -- cheering on their favorite, organizing web campaigns to proselytize its benefits, and attacking anyone with an opposing viewpoint. It's not enough to buy your favorite movies in High Definition; you have to buy them on the right High Definition disc type. The fact that both formats are virtually identical in terms of quality and features doesn't seem to matter. If you're not a soldier out there fighting for your side in the format war, you must be the enemy.

As far as I'm concerned, the whole thing seems pretty silly. At the end of the day, I just want to watch movies in High Definition.
I had a pretty eclectic Laserdisc collection around 15 years ago myself, so I don't see a niche market as necessarily being a bad thing.
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Old 11-09-07, 04:40 PM
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Josh captures the general sentiment of AV nuts like us, but I feel this statement is incomplete for J6P:

"As far as I'm concerned, the whole thing seems pretty silly. At the end of the day, I just want to watch movies in High Definition."

Without being ended with "on the same format".
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Old 11-09-07, 04:42 PM
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even the public has gotten involved, picking sides like fans of rival sports teams... attacking anyone with an opposing viewpoint.
Man, I can't wait for the story when some HD fanboy tears off some "blu" balls in a bar.

I just wish I knew why people cared so much about picking sides when they only hurt themselves... Good article.
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Old 11-09-07, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
I feel this statement is incomplete for J6P
At the same time, though, if J6P were making a list of reasons why he isn't buying into these high-def formats, the presence of two competing formats would rank...what, fourth, maybe? I'm sure a lot of people would list it near the top, but I don't think that really reflects the way they feel. It's a convenient excuse, but even if there were just one format, I don't think adoption would be substantially greater.

It's a product the overwhelming majority of people don't need or want. DVD is "good enough", even to those people who are aware that DVDs aren't high definition. (Whenever I bring up HD DVD and Blu-ray to people, at least half -- probably closer to two-thirds -- are surprised that DVDs aren't high definition themselves. A fairly large percentage of them are hostile towards the very existence of these formats too, making them feel as if they're no longer on the cutting edge.)

My family got our first Laserdisc player in 1984, and I literally did not meet another person who owned one until 1993 or 1994. If I wanted a Laserdisc, I either had to mail order it or pick it up at Camelot Music. (There was a Blockbuster near me during my brief time in Phoenix that rented LDs, but the only place I'd seen near where I lived in South Carolina that carried LDs was Camelot.) Even with its very limited userbase, I was able to find just about everything I wanted on the format, from Predator and Star Wars down to obscurities like Killer Tomatoes Eat France and Dr. Alien.

Who cares if HD DVD and/or Blu-ray are destined to be a niche? Are these people watching movies out of a passion for film or because they want to be part of some enormous club? That's what I don't understand about that pack mentality. If Mike three doors down has a Blu-ray player too, it doesn't make my discs look any better. All I want are the movies I love presented in highest quality possible -- and for sales to be high enough to keep the format alive. Nothing else is of any concern.
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Old 11-09-07, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Adam Tyner
It's a product the overwhelming majority of people don't need or want. DVD is "good enough", even to those people who are aware that DVDs aren't high definition. (Whenever I bring up HD DVD and Blu-ray to people, at least half -- probably closer to two-thirds -- are surprised that DVDs aren't high definition themselves. A fairly large percentage of them are hostile towards the very existence of these formats too, making them feel as if they're no longer on the cutting edge.)
I agree.. even if there was one format, it'd still be an enthusiast only market.
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Old 11-09-07, 05:03 PM
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Good editorial. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-09-07, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Adam Tyner
At the same time, though, if J6P were making a list of reasons why he isn't buying into these high-def formats, the presence of two competing formats would rank...what, fourth, maybe? I'm sure a lot of people would list it near the top, but I don't think that really reflects the way they feel. It's a convenient excuse, but even if there were just one format, I don't think adoption would be substantially greater.

It's a product the overwhelming majority of people don't need or want. DVD is "good enough", even to those people who are aware that DVDs aren't high definition. (Whenever I bring up HD DVD and Blu-ray to people, at least half -- probably closer to two-thirds -- are surprised that DVDs aren't high definition themselves. A fairly large percentage of them are hostile towards the very existence of these formats too, making them feel as if they're no longer on the cutting edge.)

My family got our first Laserdisc player in 1984, and I literally did not meet another person who owned one until 1993 or 1994. If I wanted a Laserdisc, I either had to mail order it or pick it up at Camelot Music. (There was a Blockbuster near me during my brief time in Phoenix that rented LDs, but the only place I'd seen near where I lived in South Carolina that carried LDs was Camelot.) Even with its very limited userbase, I was able to find just about everything I wanted on the format, from Predator and Star Wars down to obscurities like Killer Tomatoes Eat France and Dr. Alien.

Who cares if HD DVD and/or Blu-ray are destined to be a niche? Are these people watching movies out of a passion for film or because they want to be part of some enormous club? That's what I don't understand about that pack mentality. If Mike three doors down has a Blu-ray player too, it doesn't make my discs look any better. All I want are the movies I love presented in highest quality possible -- and for sales to be high enough to keep the format alive. Nothing else is of any concern.
Great post. Generally, I get a dead stare when I talk to anyone about BD or HD DVD. I agree that there are a lot of people who are mad that there is now something better than DVD after they have sunk their money into it.
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Old 11-09-07, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Adam Tyner
I had a pretty eclectic Laserdisc collection around 15 years ago myself, so I don't see a niche market as necessarily being a bad thing.
I'm a former LD collector too, and I disagree. Things got much better when DVD became a mass market success. Nearly everything we ever wanted from LD, and a whole lot more, became widely available at a fraction of the cost. That's what the economies of scale provide.

So what if we had to wade through more market noise and tolerate the ignorance of the "non-elite"? Easy trade-off for superior editions of great films for $20 instead of $100, and mass-market films available for convenient rental instead of having to buy everything you wanted to see!

I don't want to go back to paying premium prices. That's why I'm happy to buy a cheap player and rent the movies I want to see. When a sub-$200 BR player appears, I'll probably buy one of those, too.
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Old 11-09-07, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by pinata242
I just wish I knew why people cared so much about picking sides when they only hurt themselves... Good article.
Because they've invested hundreds if not thousands of dollars in something and want to know that they've made the "right" choice. It's the reason so many car ads run and the reason there were so many PS3 ads when it launched w/o a lot of games. You want your early adopters to feel OK that they just handed you $xxxx.
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Old 11-09-07, 08:02 PM
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Also, people are assholes.
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Old 11-09-07, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
Because they've invested hundreds if not thousands of dollars in something and want to know that they've made the "right" choice. It's the reason so many car ads run and the reason there were so many PS3 ads when it launched w/o a lot of games. You want your early adopters to feel OK that they just handed you $xxxx.
I feel that way about PS3 games. I'm pissed that there aren't more great exclusive games. I couldn't careless if Blu-ray fails though.
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Old 11-09-07, 10:38 PM
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I always felt like I made a lateral move from LD to DVD. I didnt have a widescreen TV to take advantage of the anamorphic transfers until last year when I bought my HD A1. I have been thinking about High Def discs since at least the year 2000 and have bought probably less than 100 new films (out of my collection of around 700) since that time, instead focussing on collecting classics, foreign, and TV.

Sorry if people feel cheated. I sure don't. I have been planning for this for a LONG time. I never bought VHS and I had around 50-60 LDs. Rented a couple 100 maybe.

And there is no way I would go back to paying LD prices for Blu Ray. F that noise. And I am in a much better financial situation that I was in the 10 years I bought 60 discs.
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Old 11-10-07, 02:12 AM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
I agree.. even if there was one format, it'd still be an enthusiast only market.
Don't let the anti-neutral, excuse me, anti-duality nazis, hear you say that. I'm sure their noses will turn up at this article, if they can keep them down long enough to read it.
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Old 11-10-07, 04:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Adam Tyner
Who cares if HD DVD and/or Blu-ray are destined to be a niche? Are these people watching movies out of a passion for film or because they want to be part of some enormous club? That's what I don't understand about that pack mentality.
Hate to say it, but I think Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox gathered more teenagers for a Blu-ray and HD DVD NFL Football Showdown than it did hardcore movie enthusiasts battling each other.

I know we have Blu-ray and HD DVD movie enthusiasts on this forum who own these gaming systems, so don't even go there with some spun idea I'm calling them kids, but outside of DVD Talk, in the real representative world, we have many kids who own these gaming systems who have dabbled in HD, but probably are more inclined to play games with it than viewing it as being a part of their home theater system.

Most of the hardcore movie enthusiasts probably don't even own a PS3 or Xbox. And I suspect these are the same people who are avoiding forums and confrontations. So, what I believe we're seeing, is a younger generation, fighting a format war they have no comprehension about, and have no idea of the history behind the companies of this war. If Sony says Blu-ray is better, then hey, it is because I own a PS3. And so on. This really is a war, in that the young and naive are sent to the front lines by their own myopic vision of solidarity, spoken to them from their leaders.

We do have a few older men acting like children, and maybe it's a mid-life crisis thing for them or something. Or maybe they've been sneaking into their child's prescription of ADD pills. Or maybe they haven't thrown a temper tantrum in 30 years and want to feel young again. I don't know. But the older guys who have the websites need to be role models for the younger generation who really need a sane voice to listen to.
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Old 11-10-07, 04:48 AM
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I agree about the war being in the hands of a bunch of teenagers.

This forum is the only sane place I've ever found on the net to talk about HD.
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Old 11-10-07, 07:53 AM
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I have no problem if HD becomes a niche format, cause anything that is niche always caters to the individuals who support it, and doesn't try to too hard to market to the masses. I want to buy an HD-DVD or BluRay player so badly, but I won't until the format war is over. I could care less who wins, and don't support one more then the other, and the day the war is over, I will go out and buy a player and start my HD collection. I won't buy 2 players just watch movies in 1080i, and won't support just one company as see movies I like come out from another that I can't buy. I will just stick with DVD, and wait.
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Old 11-10-07, 01:27 PM
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When video tape was introduced it was beta v. vhs, and everything was hugely expensive, software hardware and blank media. When I finally got a VCR I paid around $800 for the first affordable RCA VHS machine. Prerecorded tapes were "priced for rental" a, and I chose VHS over beta because the player was cheaper and I could put 6 Hrs - 3 movies - on a tape. Tapes got cheaper, so I moved to 4 Hr. recording, then 2hr recording, then even T-160 tapes got cheap. Off-rental tapes became available for $5 or so and they started selling "priced for sale" prerecorded tapes. I built a movie collection.

Laserdisc, and the short-lived RCA disc system came out but I couldn't afford a player. When an affordable player came out I bought one, and built a laserdisc collection at secondhand stores, sales brom the B&M bargain bin, then internet purchases and replaced my tape connection with a nice laserdisc collection. I eventually moved to better players as prices dropped but neither software nor hardware ever became anywhere near cheap.

I resisted DVD - I loved my laserdiscs - but gave up when an RCA player went on sale for around $500. The thing was a clunker, but I started building a DVD collection, rather quickly when some bright executives started selling cheaper players and discs at a really affordable price, so I built my DVD collection - and a DVD-R collection.

So here we are with HD, and as it goes with old farts, I can afford early adopter hardware. Prices are dropping far more rapidly than with previous formats for both software and hardware. There's no HD recorders - yet - but I just got a lovely TiVO DVR with an expansion add-on that will let me collect about 50 HD movies off the cable.

Meanwhile, every time I bought a new TV it got bigger...and now I'm up to a projector system and the superiority of HD is obvious, and compelling, with a wall-sized picture.

HD/Blu prices are really dropping rapidly, due to the format war, no doubt as Zyber points out...but what will save the HD formats is the really huge TVs and affordable prices and the rapidly dropping price of projectors. When people start watching football on their wall with their $1,000 projector and hook it up to HD movie sources the new format(s) will take off.
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Old 11-10-07, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by rdclark
I'm a former LD collector too, and I disagree. Things got much better when DVD became a mass market success. Nearly everything we ever wanted from LD, and a whole lot more, became widely available at a fraction of the cost. That's what the economies of scale provide.
We're already over that hurdle. The format war has driven down prices on both sides, and will continue to do so. That wouldn't have happened if one format had given up early.
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Old 11-10-07, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z
We're already over that hurdle. The format war has driven down prices on both sides, and will continue to do so. That wouldn't have happened if one format had given up early.
I think he meant even lower prices, like sub-$10 discs being commonplace. However, that took 4-5 years with DVD, so we shouldn't expect that yet with HD discs.
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Old 11-10-07, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Drexl
I think he meant even lower prices, like sub-$10 discs being commonplace. However, that took 4-5 years with DVD, so we shouldn't expect that yet with HD discs.
With all the ridiculous sales this year, I'd say we'll see $10 or less discs by next Christmas.
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Old 11-10-07, 04:27 PM
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My only concern is 2 formats are slowing down the mass adoption, which in turn will slow down us getting some more classic titles, and all those Spielberg gems. With the classic titles out now that aren't selling worth a damn, I don't see studios in any hurry to dig deeper in the vault.

Seriously, why has titles like Casablanca sold so poorly on HD DVD? If a title doesn't sell well on BD, then we all say it's because it doesn't appeal to the gamer base. Well, since there is no gamer base on HD DVD, then why hasn't the older titles sold better?
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Old 11-10-07, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Cinema
Well, since there is no gamer base on HD DVD, then why hasn't the older titles sold better?
You might be able to give Casablanca a pass because it was one of the five free HD DVDs with a player purchase for such a long time, but really, both formats are skewing towards the mid-to-early twentysomething demographic. I think they're also struggling with the misconception that older films don't benefit from HD as well as the fact that so many people already have these movies on DVD. Stores also aren't all that keen on stocking catalog titles, and you can't buy what isn't being sold. Personally, I've given up on looking for catalog titles in store and buy everything online.

Looking at the weekly sales numbers, HD media seems to be very hit-driven. Sales are anchored around one -- maybe two -- titles a week, and from there, it's all pretty much indistinguishable. A couple hundred copies can make the difference between being #10 on the list and being #6.
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Old 11-10-07, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z
We're already over that hurdle. The format war has driven down prices on both sides, and will continue to do so. That wouldn't have happened if one format had given up early.
Believe me, I'm happy we're not paying $100 for a box set of Terminator 2.

But whether it's the format war or something else that's keeping the HD formats from being outrageously (as opposed to just unreasonably) expensive, it's still true that cinemaphilia is a rich person's hobby, and everybody who makes products to sell in this niche knows that as long as it remains a niche, it won't be primarily price-driven.

Laserdiscs were expensive in large part because they were expensive to make, it's true, but there was little incentive to reduce their prices when it looked like everyone who was ever going to adopt the format already had, and was willing to pay premium dollar.

We don't want that to happen to the HD formats. We want them to be widely adopted. IMO, it's ultimately less important which format prevails -- or whether both of them survive -- than it is that they become a mass market success.

Obviously most people believe this won't happen until one format is universally adopted by all the studios, and almost certainly true, but I would not mind having to own two players if releases were scheduled, priced, and configured in terms of features and content the way DVDs are now. The point of all this is to replace SD-DVD with an equivalent HD format, and that equivalency is about the software, not the hardware.
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Old 11-10-07, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Adam Tyner
You might be able to give Casablanca a pass because it was one of the five free HD DVDs with a player purchase for such a long time, but really, both formats are skewing towards the mid-to-early twentysomething demographic. I think they're also struggling with the misconception that older films don't benefit from HD as well as the fact that so many people already have these movies on DVD.
There's also the mindset some people have that only certain types of movies are worth it in HD. They feel that genres like action, sci-fi/fantasy, and maybe horror are worthy, but not comedies or dramas. I've heard the saying "comedies aren't any funnier in HD," and I imagine that attitude would carry over to more dialogue-driven movies like Casablanca.
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Old 11-10-07, 10:11 PM
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You wouldn't think this from the posts in this forum, but I think that a lot of people are like me.

I'll start buying my new-to-me titles in HD, but I have no plans to upgrade my SD library to HD (maybe an occasional favorite.)

So obviously, catalog HD titles are going to have much lower numbers than recent releases.

Most people getting into HD already have a large SD library I would imagine.
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