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Adult Industry To Decide Blu-ray/HD-DVD Winner


Adult Industry - Technology broker?In a re-run of the Betamax v VHS videotape wars, the adult industry could again be the decider in the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD contest to replace DVDs for high-definition content.


Ron Wagner, director of IT operations at E! Entertainment Television said his company has already chosen the Blu-ray Disc format, in large part because of talk in the porn industry preferring it to HD-DVD.

Wagner stated that while attending NAB 2005 conference, more than one panel discussed "several major players in the porn industry going the Blu-ray route." He said the Blu-ray versus HD-DVD rivalry was the buzz once again last month, in NAB 2006.


"If you look at the VHS vs. Beta standards, you see the much higher-quality standard dying because of [the porn industry's support of VHS]," he said. "The mass volume of tapes in the porn market at the time went out on VHS."

E! Entertainment is using Blu-Ray discs primarily for Sony's XDCam applications for acquisition of television programming materials. The television network, which has more than 85 million subscribers to its celebrity gossip and entertainment news.

The pornography industry generates an estimated $57 billion in annual revenue worldwide and has always been fast to use new technology, according to analysts.


Adult movie studio Digital Playground, claiming to have produced the largest number of high definition movies in the industry over the past three years, said it is choosing Blu-ray Disc for all of its 'interactive' films because of the system's greater capacity. It also selected Blue-ray because Sony chose the format for its PlayStation 3 (PS3) box, due out in November.

The co-founder of Digital Playground, who goes by the one-word name "Joone", said the fact that Sony chose Blu-ray guarantees his studio an instant home audience.


"PlayStation 3 is going to be the Trojan horse that will get a lot of numbers into the home theatre systems - the living rooms," said Joone, who is also a movie director. "Technology-wise we've chosen Blu-ray, which doesn't mean we won't support both formats but as far as having really cool , Blu-ray is a good format."

Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD are the two new rival optical-disc formats positioned to replace DVDs with high-definition content.

Blu-ray is not only backed by entertainment giant Sony, but also by Panasonic, LG Electronics, Philips Electronics and movie studios Disney and Fox. Blu-ray offers storage up to 50GB capacity, or up to nine hours of high-definition content. In contrast, HD-DVD has 30GB capacity and is supported by companies like Toshiba, NEC and Warner Home Video.

Industry analyst Paul O'Donovan believes industry support of either DVD format will be a "strong factor" toward general acceptance of the technology by the general marketplace, but even more critical is Sony's adoption of the technology.


O'Donovan said although initially the Blu-ray format will be more expensive and it will come after HD-DVD, the sheer support it is receiving from the entertainment industry, including pornography studios, will catapult it to a victory within a range of 18 months to five years.

Steve Hirsch, who heads adult film studio Vivid Entertainment, said he's currently using the HD-DVD format because it was the first to come out, but his studio will begin burning to the Blu-ray format as soon as it is available.

"The adult industry has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. We don't have any theatrical distribution issues nor do we have big box retailers, like Wal-Mart and Blockbuster, to cater to. We find distribution wherever we can," Hirsch said.


Hirsch founded Vivid Entertainment in 1984, looking back to the porn industry in the 80s said: "It was the adult industry which jumped right in and released movies on both VHS and Beta. We pushed the actual technology more than anyone else," he said. "The adult industry has always been ahead when comes to technology."

But not everyone believes the format issue will be decided by the adult movie industry. Steve Duplessie, founder of research firm Enterprise Strategy Group and a Computerworld columnist says the industry's influence over the fate of VHS and the upcoming high-def DVD formats is overstated.

Duplessie said VHS ultimately won over Betamax because Betamax was a proprietary format owned by Sony, while VHS was more open.

"I love the whole pornography concept simply because porn is still the number one money-making use of the internet. But I don't believe the porn industry will drive the format. Like any other industry, it will supply what the consumer wants," he said.