Beyond the Office [Burning Questions: HD-DVD Claims the Advantage - 08/23/2005]

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Ablang, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. Ablang

    Ablang Guest

    August 23rd, 2005

    Burning Questions: HD-DVD Claims the Advantage

    Sr. Assoc. Ed. Melissa J. Perenson

    Never underestimate the power of a name. That's the single greatest
    takeaway I found in a recent study offered up in support of HD-DVD,
    one of two competing formats in the race for a next-generation disc
    format with the capacity required for high-definition content. And
    according to this study, HD-DVD's familiar sound is going to serve it
    well in the coming format war--which is not a surprising conclusion,
    considering the study was commissioned by HD-DVD's backers.

    In July I looked at research released by the Blu-ray Disc Association,
    the group pushing HD-DVD's rival format:,aid,121822,tk,box,00.asp

    Both the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc studies were clearly designed to
    showcase the strengths of the technology whose backers paid for the
    research. Still, just as I found intriguing snippets buried in the
    Blu-ray Disc study, so too did I find worthwhile nuggets in the study
    commissioned by Warner Home Video on behalf of HD-DVD, and conducted
    at about the same time frame as the Blu-ray Disc research.

    "We conducted this study to get a feel for how consumers feel about
    the two formats," explains Steve Nickerson, senior vice president of
    market management for Warner Home Video. He notes that the research
    company that executed the study, Ipsos-Vantis, is the same firm whose
    forecast models for DVD proved accurate for Warner in the late 1990s
    and earlier this decade.

    HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray Disc: HD-DVD Wins

    Unlike the more abstractly focused Blu-ray Disc study, which for the
    most part asked consumers to express general preferences regarding
    next-generation optical technology without getting into specific
    formats, the Warner study specifically pitted HD-DVD against Blu-ray

    Survey participants were provided with statements explaining the two
    technologies; but in my opinion the statements were not as
    well-written or well-informed as they could be, and seemed biased
    toward HD-DVD. For example, specs for both formats call for a hybrid
    disc (next-gen format on one side, standard DVD on the other), but the
    hybrid disc was mentioned only in the HD-DVD statement. It seems
    logical to assume that the survey responses were heavily influenced by
    these concept statements.

    The study was based on interviews with 3000 people, all of whom said
    they owned a DVD player. However, only about a third of the survey
    group said they also owned an HDTV; another third said they intended
    to buy one; and the last third said they weren't inclined to get an

    One set of questions produced overwhelming support for HD-DVD over
    Blu-ray Disc. In this part of the survey, participants were divided
    into different groups. One group was provided with the concept
    statement for HD-DVD, and then told to assume that an HD-DVD player
    had come to market first, followed six months later by a Blu-ray Disc
    player. These respondents were then provided with the Blu-ray Disc
    concept statement and asked which player they would buy, with both
    types of players available. About half (51 percent) said they'd choose
    the HD-DVD player; only a quarter opted for the Blu-ray Disc player;
    the rest said they wouldn't buy either product.

    Those numbers barely changed when another set of respondents were
    shown the Blu-ray Disc concept statement first, followed immediately
    by the HD-DVD statement, then asked which player they would buy.
    (Ipsos-Vantis never posited a scenario in which Blu-Ray Disc products
    appear first because the HD-DVD camp expects its products to appear
    first, a company spokesperson explained.)

    Nickerson says these figures prove that people are more comfortable
    with a format that's based on products they already know and use than
    with a completely new format. "The name HD-DVD directly links with the
    brand of DVD, and the consumer experience with DVD is very high when
    it comes to satisfaction scores," Nickerson says. "It doesn't matter
    which [format] you show them first; you can't ask them to ignore their
    life experience with HDTVs and DVDs. This research is bearing that

    When New Isn't Better

    Another set of questions tried to determine whether the apparent
    consumer interest in HD-DVD would translate into actual purchases.

    Respondents were first asked whether they considered HD-DVD and
    Blu-ray Disc "unique and different" from current technologies. The
    good news here for the future of high-def-capable recording is that
    consumers clearly viewed both formats as unique. In fact, Blu-ray Disc
    even had a slight edge: No respondent thought it was "not at all
    unique" while 3 percent thought that of HD-DVD, and 22 percent of
    those surveyed said they believed Blu-ray Disc was "extremely unique,"
    compared with 19 percent for HD-DVD.

    However, when respondents were next asked whether they would to
    purchase an HD-DVD or Blu-ray Disc player (assuming either was the
    only format available), 44 percent of consumers said they "definitely
    would" or "probably would" buy HD-DVD, while only 28 percent opted for
    Blu-ray Disc.

    "The conversion of 'I think it's unique' to 'I will buy it' is much
    higher for HD-DVD," Nickerson says.

    HD-DVD also surpassed Blu-ray Disc in consumer expectations for
    satisfaction: 62 percent of those surveyed said they expected to like
    an HD-DVD player "extremely well" or "very well," while only 44
    percent checked off those responses for a Blu-ray Disc product.

    It's All in the Name

    Nickerson believes HD-DVD's name gives it an edge that will serve it
    well in the event of a format war. The study sought to gauge the
    impact of a format war by first telling respondents they could acquire
    and play movies on either an HD-DVD player or a Blu-ray Disc player:
    In that scenario, 47 percent of respondents said they'd buy HD-DVD; 30
    percent said they'd buy Blu-ray Disc; and 23 percent said they
    wouldn't purchase either product.

    But when participants were told that some studios might make their
    movies available in only one of the two competing formats (the choice
    of format would vary depending on the studio), the numbers shifted
    dramatically. Thirty-nine percent of respondents still indicated
    they'd buy HD-DVD, but only 16 percent said they'd buy Blu-ray Disc,
    and fully 45 percent--nearly twice as many as before--said they
    wouldn't buy either.

    But while the numbers from this study do seem to favor HD-DVD's
    chances in a format war, the bigger picture is that both formats would
    suffer because consumers would postpone purchasing any successor to
    DVD. Reader Marc Johnson's comment, posted in response to my July 29
    blog item on the pending format war, is representative of attitudes
    overwhelmingly expressed in online forum posts and in my e-mail inbox:
    "Personally, I'll consider upgrading [to a new format] when I need a
    new TV. Until then I'll enjoy DVDs, which work just fine for me....
    I'll let the early adopters blow their money":

    I think even those early adopters are starting to get cold feet; I
    know I am. But what do you think? Join the discussion surrounding the
    addition of another adherent to the Blu-ray Disc cause:

    To keep up with the latest news on this front, visit our Info Center
    for DVD Burners & Recorders:,ctrid,11,ic,DVDDrivesandRecorders,tk,box,00.asp

    Have a question or comment? Write to Melissa Perenson:

    Read Melissa J. Perenson's regularly published "Burning Questions"

    "In a world where more than 10 million americans live with cancer -- we believe unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything!"
    -- Livestrong, by Lance Armstrong
    Ablang, Aug 24, 2005
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