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NYT Confirms Movie Studios Paid to Support HD DVD 441

Posted by Zonk
from the money-makes-the-world-go-round dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times has confirmed the story that Paramount and DreamWorks Animation were paid $150 million for an exclusive HD-DVD deal that will last 18 months. 'Paramount and DreamWorks Animation declined to comment. Microsoft, the most prominent technology company supporting HD DVDs, said it could not rule out payment but said it wrote no checks. "We provided no financial incentives to Paramount or DreamWorks whatsoever," said Amir Majidimehr, the head of Microsoft's consumer media technology group.'" We discussed Paramount's defection on Monday.
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NYT Confirms Movie Studios Paid to Support HD DVD

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  • Yeah... So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MattZ3 (939241) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:25PM (#20314069)
    Did anyone really expect anything different?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I did. (Nah I'm just kidding)
    • Re:Yeah... So? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Divebus (860563) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @12:09AM (#20314369)

      And in 18 months, Paramount will [happily] open the doors to Blu-ray. At these market penetration levels for either format, it doesn't matter much yet but by then they may be tired of having the only next-gen DVDs sitting on the shelves collecting dust. You never know.

      Isn't it ironic that the consumer vigorously defends his right to "choice" but won't make a move until the choice is made for him?

      • Re:Yeah... So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @01:42AM (#20314851)

        Isn't it ironic that the consumer vigorously defends his right to "choice" but won't make a move until the choice is made for him?
        Yeah. After all no consoles were bought in significant numbers until the Wii was chosen, oh wait....

        Consumers want and demand choice all the time. They've simply learned that the market supporting two high-end video formats simultaneously is unlikely (see Beta vs VHS) and so are unwilling to invest in a format that will soon die.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by boogybren (886343)
          One thing we have now however that wasn't prevalent in the beta/vhs days is units that are both blue ray/hd dvd compatible on one drive.

          It will be interesting to see how that affects the market. We see something similar now with Microsoft's proprietary audio/video and iTunes audio/video. Both are used, yet we don't really talk about which format will win here.
      • Re:Yeah... So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:35AM (#20315139)

        Isn't it ironic that the consumer vigorously defends his right to "choice" but won't make a move until the choice is made for him?


        No, the consumer has clearly chosen not to spend his/her money on more unnecessary crap like Blu-Ray or HD-DVD players. The consumer has decided that normal DVD is plenty fine for them right now.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by utopianfiat (774016)
          Exactly. People are moving all up ons about HD and the next-gen optical media when nothing important has happened yet. Cable can't even carry a decent lineup of 1080p programming, much less provide sufficient HD content to justify a move.
          I think what will determine *this* market will be burners. Whoever has the cheapest burner first will cause a move to their format, since people should be able to take all their HDDVDs or Blu-rays and convert them to the opposing format.
          • Re:Yeah... So? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by networkBoy (774728) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @03:22AM (#20315377) Homepage Journal
            I think what will determine *this* market will be burners. Whoever has the cheapest burner^Wmedia first will cause a move to their format

            Fixed that for you.
            I'll pay a 50% premium on a burner if the media is 50% cheaper.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Kjella (173770)
              Well, personally I've grown tired of DVDs and is using a 500GB external eSATA drive. When it goes full I'll probably buy another. They're like +40% the cost of an internal disk, but operate at native speed and in short:

              1. You don't have to distribute big stuff over several DVDs
              2. Alternately for smaller stuff you don't need to gather up (ok there's RW platters)
              3. No need to find DVDs in a folder
              4. Quieter.
              5. Much faster.
              6. No burn/label/store time

              Let's say in average you take five minutes handling (find bla
        • Re:Yeah... So? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:37AM (#20316141)
          You know, I bet they said the same thing when DVDs started to replace VHS.

          Have you seen the difference in quality of a HD movie vs a DVD movie when played on a screen that can handle it? It's an amazing difference. Most consumers have -not- seen this, and probably won't until there's good market penetration.

          The difference is good enough that I have purchased NEW movies at full retail price for the first time in over 10 years. Crank and Kung Fu Hustle are amazing, and I've heard the third one I bought this weekend, Memento, is amazing as well.

          So while the consumer may have chosen not to spend their money, that doesn't mean they have any actual information to base that decision on. Players -are- still too expensive, and I wouldn't have one if I hadn't snagged a used PS3 for dirt cheap, but I expect that will change soon, just like always happens. TVs have some way down already. For instance, 5 years ago a 50" Plasma was $50,000 at Office Depot. I bought a 46" LCD with 10,000:1 contrast ratio (making it pretty much as good as plasma) for $2300, and I could have bought a Plasma with the same size and features for under $3000. That's quite a drop in price for only 5 years.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gstoddart (321705)

            You know, I bet they said the same thing when DVDs started to replace VHS.

            Not really. People looked at DVD and decided it was clearly better -- DVD got adopted very fast, in no small part because it was compatible with our existing stuff.

            Have you seen the difference in quality of a HD movie vs a DVD movie when played on a screen that can handle it? It's an amazing difference. Most consumers have -not- seen this, and probably won't until there's good market penetration.

            But the problem is this depends on two

      • Re:Yeah... So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @03:33AM (#20315417) Journal
        Isn't it ironic that the consumer vigorously defends his right to "choice" but won't make a move until the choice is made for him?

        No irony there, just common sense.

        We want choice in our products and standards for our containers. The disk is the container, not the product.

      • Re:Yeah... So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @04:57AM (#20315755)
        Isn't it ironic that the consumer vigorously defends his right to "choice" but won't make a move until the choice is made for him?

        I already made my choice: regular DVD is fine. Someone decided for me that I should delay buying another player for at least another 18 months. I just don't know who the next long term deal is going to be with, and it's pretty clear they're quite interested in selling the same shit over and over again on multiple formats.

        The last video format conversion was from tape to disc. That was a huge change in the overall experience. Remember those tape rewinders? Tape was a disaster. So are discs actually. The difference in the experience between DVD and HD-whatever-DVD-Ray is too slight. Counting pixels misses the point. Why do you even care how sharp this garbage looks? With these hi-def discs, you still have to actually get up, walk over to a player, and fiddle with physical plastic objects and their stupid covers with those annoying stickers plastered across the opening. Does anyone think it's going to be cool to keep doing that 18 months from now? It's going to feel as intolerable as CD audio feels today.

        Just keeping plastic discs organized actually requires special racks, stands, or actual furniture. I have two "media stands" holding DVDs in the corner. They're probably headed for the garage where my CD audio rack is. I recently got one of those ipod stands with a CD audio player on top. I have yet to put a CD into it because all the discs are in the garage. If we ever get a new disc, it gets ripped, and then it goes to the garage. The slight degradation in quality doesn't enter into the decision at all. I just don't care. I'm happy I can listen to music without having to look at all these stupid things or match them with their covers.

        Americans are getting fatter. They don't want to waddle over to a player every time they play a different movie. That's totally lame. They want whatever lets them watch this shit without leaving their sofas by pushing buttons on a remote and only ONE remote- not a bunch of remotes with an additional one arriving every 18 months during a long bitter format war. So nobody is going to bother with HD-DVD or Blue-Ray. If you're going to pull a scam like this, you have to offer something worthwhile to the mark.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TummyX (84871)
          I already made my choice: regular DVD is fine.

          Spoken like someone who doesn't own a a hi-def television.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Spoken like someone who doesn't own a a hi-def television.

            I have a 30" LCD, much prettier than the CRT it replaced. It has an HDMI port, unused. Unless I get a console (doubtful) I have no plans to plug anything into it. Component video works fine. It doesn't show off the full HD capabilities, but I'd rather keep the extra money.

            If current trends continue I may get cut off from Hollywood someday, but by then movies will have gotten so bad that it will matter even less than it does now. They're already getti
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Dogtanian (588974)

          Remember those tape rewinders?
          That's nothing, I'm pissed off because I just bought a DVD rewinder... and now I'm going to have to buy a new one that supports HD-DVD and Blu Ray as well!
    • There is only one reason why someone would pay $150 million to buy the adoption of a particular format: The HD DVD people realized their preferred format was inferior, and could not possibly win in the marketplace in a fair competition on the merits.

      In other words, the people who paid believed that the format they don't want to win, Blu-ray, is worth $150 million more than their HD DVD format in true value, so to even the score they had to pay.

      That shouts very loudly to me. Someone with $150 million to spend has set the value of Blu-ray as being worth that much more than HD DVD. Thanks for the information. You have voted with your dollars, and shouted to everyone who thinks about it that Blu-ray should win.

      From the New York Times article: "The battle over the competing high-definition DVD technologies has sputtered in recent months as Blu-ray discs have emerged as the front-runner. Blu-ray titles are sharply outselling HD offerings..."

      Not only the corrupters, but the marketplace also, agree that Blu-ray is better.

      I wonder how much it would cost to get Paramount and DreamWorks Animation to adopt 8-track tapes?

      I wonder how much it would cost to get Paramount and DreamWorks Animation executives never to take showers or baths? Obviously, to them, everything is for sale, even their technical integrity.

      If that kind of thing continues, the word "executive" will become synonymous with the word "sleaze".
      • Help Needed: Does anyone have any idea why someone would pay $150 million to try to make HD DVD more popular? There's obviously a lot of money in it for someone, but I can't imagine why.

        Comparisons:

        Blu-ray [wikipedia.org]: "A dual layer Blu-ray Disc can store 50 GB..." with a raw data transfer rate of 53.95 Mbit/s. HD DVD [wikipedia.org]: "HD DVD has a single-layer capacity of 15 GB and a dual-layer capacity of 30 GB; ..." with a raw data transfer rate of 36.55 Mbit/s. [My emphasis]

        More comparisons [wikipedia.org]: Blu-ray scratch resistance "has withstood direct abrasion by steel wool and marring with markers in tests" "HD DVD uses traditional material and has the same scratch and surface characteristics of a regular DVD."

        "Blockbuster, the largest U.S. movie rental company, decided in June 2007 in favor of expanding Blu-ray support exclusively to an additional 1450 stores. The decision came following a trial in 250 rental stores, in which both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs were available. In the trial it has been found that more than 70% of high definitions rentals were Blu-ray discs." [My emphasis]

        "According to a market research company Nielsen VideoScan, as of week ended August 12, 2007, weekly sales of Blu-ray discs were ahead of HD DVD with 66% of the market. In 2007 sales, Blu-ray leads with 66% of the market. Since inception, market share was 61% for Blu-ray and 39% for HD DVD."

        This comment [cdfreaks.com] on the CDFreaks.com differences page is interesting, I have no idea whether it is valid: "To make a (HD)-DVD disc you need two moulding machines and an extra process to glue the two 0.6mm substrates together, which means you loose valuable seconds. Also the HD-DVD disc tolerances for flatness & thickness are extremely tight (twice more critical than that of normal DVD). To make a Blu-ray disc you need only 1 moulding machine and you don't have to glue the two substrates, which means less production time. In fact a Blu-ray disc can be compared with an up-side-down CD disc... which is very simple to make. As for disc tolerances of Blu-ray, these are comparable with normal DVD, resulting in an much more controllable production process. This means better yields and that future high-speed discs are easier to make. All in all, you might be able to upgrade DVD lines to make HD-DVD's, but in time the mass-volume production process itself will be less expensive for Blu-ray."

        From CDFreaks pros and cons [cdfreaks.com]: "Blu-ray requires a much lower rotation speed of the disc to reach the specified transfer rate of 36Mbps."

        And "Hybrid Discs -- Here we can find an advantage for Blu-ray, resulting from the new structure of the disc. Since the recording layer for Blu-ray data is only 0.1 mm away from the surface of the disc there is enough space below to integrate a complete 8.5 GB DVD DL disc."

        (I have no connection whatsoever with either format, of course. My only interest is that the format that becomes popular be the best format technically.)
      • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @06:43AM (#20316159) Homepage Journal
        Not only the corrupters, but the marketplace also, agree that Blu-ray is better.

        If that's the case, and consumers choose what's best, then why did VHS beat out Betamax, which had better video and audio quality across the board? Why is Windows the de-facto operating system for home computers?

        You make it sound like the majority of consumers actually make informed decisions when they go out and buy electronics. I can only assume your post was written tongue in cheek, because it appears you infer that people actually go out and research the underlying technology of various products before they make their purchase.

        Personally, I give Blu-Ray an automatic 25% edge in the market over HD-DVD because Blu-Ray sounds cooler, and "HD-DVD" has a sort of legacy sound to it. Seriously. I think that, to the average consumer, the name would have more bearing on their purchase than any technical aspects.

        Dan East
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mgblst (80109)

          If that's the case, and consumers choose what's best, then why did VHS beat out Betamax, which had better video and audio quality across the board?

          Why does this myth keep getting circulated. Please can we stop this now. The fact is that Betamax had mildly better video, indescernable to most people. Also VHS tapes were available in 2 hours varieties a long time before they were with Beta. You can have your two Beta tapes for a movie to my VHS one. Also, VHS were less restrictive with their license, so a lot

          • by Divebus (860563) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:52AM (#20318361)

            The fact is that Betamax had mildly better video, indescernable to most people.

            That's true. Consumers were looking through the marketing filters when they made a choice, though. Betamax actually had a huge advantage over VHS in video sharpness, color noise and audio quality, especially as the battle progressed. Color on VHS looked like a Monet painting - fuzzy water colors. The Beta looked much closer to a direct broadcast signal. Most consumers were buying whatever Billy-Bob down the street had. He had a VHS because the early Beta machines were more expensive than VHS machines (because of the way the tape transports were built). Price usually beats function into second place.

            The biggest driving force was the cost of blank tape. The first Beta and VHS tapes cost $22-$24 apiece. You wanted a machine to stretch that cost over as many hours of recording as possible. That got VHS the foothold.

            The only time [consumer] Betamax started taking market share back from [consumer] VHS was when Beta-HiFi came out. It took the VHS camp a year to respond and created more expensive "8 head" VHS machines, which the Beta camp could do with two heads. "Gosh, 8 heads MUST be better". No, the VHS format needed that to make a marginally acceptable image at multiple speeds. At the same time, the Beta camp figured out how to make much less expensive tape transports, so cost was erased as a factor.

            SuperBeta produced a measurable sharpness increase of 20% but all the VHS camp could do is relax the white clip circuits (VHS-HQ) by 20%. Consumers only saw the "20%" figure and concluded they must be the same thing without actually looking. You could turn SuperBeta on and off and see a real difference. Not so with the VHS-HQ switch. S-VHS was actually more akin to SuperBeta but that came years later and required special [expensive] tape. The VHS camp couldn't even respond to Beta-ED but by then it didn't matter for the consumer. Movie stores started stocking more VHS and that created an avalanche effect driving more consumers toward buying VHS machines. Game over for consumer Beta.

            Broadcasters adopted the Beta format over the VHS format for news (originally) because of the dramatic quality differences. The VHS based news recorders were blown off the market within a year by Beta. This started the 25 year dynasty of Broadcast technical progression: BetaCam, BetaCam-SP, Digital BetaCam, BetaCam-SX, BetaCam-IMX, HDCam and HDCam-SR. If you saw the last several Star Wars movies, they were shot with HDCam - a Beta format derivative, not film.

            At every turn, the consumer didn't look at quality or function one bit. The Beta transport could skip forward and backward at 20x speed with a viewable picture because of the transport design - something the VHS couldn't do. It made smaller Camcorders when they came out with full recording capacity which the VHS camp couldn't do. With a fresh eyeball, the Beta format was hands down the superior machine with lots of technical headroom, but the consumer ignored the facts and went with the flow. Oh well. Here's an ugly page with some technical differences between Beta and VHS [betainfoguide.com], none of which mattered to consumers.

            You can have your two Beta tapes for a movie to my VHS one.

            I only recall a few Beta movies on two tapes and those were very early rare birds. The earliest Beta tapes were only one hour long but that was fixed quickly with Beta-II and L-750 tapes (which could do 3+ hours at Beta-II).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by utopianfiat (774016)
      NYT confirms? Is that like the Netcraft York Times?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by marcello_dl (667940)
      Well somebody does, right here:

      "Are you quite sure your historical bias against MS hasn't led you into hasty conclusions here?" [slashdot.org]

      Besides, the guy in some position at Microsoft can say "we provided no financial incentives to paramount or dreamworks" without lying, while Microsoft could be behind it all nonetheless.
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaveCBio (659840) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:26PM (#20314085)
    Let's drag out all of Sony and friends general ledgers and see how much "promotional consideration" Target and Blockbuster got. I really don't get why people are making a big deal about a company making promotional deals. Let's be serious, these days $150 million is about enough to cover one big budget movie.
    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:39PM (#20314169)

      The reason people get upset when they hear about promotional deals is not because it is unexpected, but because it violates the ideal of capitalism that the best ideas will rise to the top and result in the most efficent solutions. In truth, capitalism has a huge bias towards the ideas winning in the marketplace of those with assets to reinvest and use to promote their agenda. However, when it becomes overly blunt, people have a viseral reaction due to what they learned in 8th grade civics classes (in the US at least).

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DaveCBio (659840) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:48PM (#20314225)
        Huh? Since when does this violate the ideals of capitalism? Capitalism has nothing to do with the "best ideas rising to the top" unless you are ascribing some sort of Randian idealism. What is happening here is pure capitalism. People with wealth are using it to further their own agenda, which ultimately they hope will generate a suitable return.
        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:55PM (#20314287)

          Huh? Since when does this violate the ideals of capitalism?

          Not the way capitalism really operates, the idealistic way American (and possibly other) children are tought to think capitalism operates in middle school.

          • by Bartab (233395)
            This is pure free market capitalism, as I was taught. Not the watered down gov't interfering way we have in the good 'ol US of A.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by pAnkRat (639452)
          Brings to mind the flipside of "living doll" by Cliff Richards and the Young Ones:

          Neil: What, wait, I tought Capitalism was about "the best ideas rising to the top"
          Mike: No Neil, that's sex, captitalisn is about making money.
        • I'd go for Adam Smith rather then the silly upstart you mentioned for the idea of capitalism, and that idea is that in a perfect market economy we will get the best and cheapest goods possible.

          Unfortunately, the perfect market cannot exist, and deals like the one discussed are moving us further away from it. Exclusive deals and trusts always hurt everyone except for the parties directly involved, because they hurt the market.

          Which is why Smith (and Rand) are wrong, and capitalism works best under some kin
      • The reason people get upset when they hear about promotional deals is not because it is unexpected, but because it violates the ideal of capitalism that the best ideas will rise to the top and result in the most efficent solutions.

        When, in modern times, has this ideal ever been true? Has it ever been true at all? People need to stop fooling themselves that one mega-huge company is "less evil" than another; in fact they are all about the same in that creating quality products that people need and want, sust

      • by blackicye (760472)

        the ideal of capitalism that the best ideas will rise to the top and result in the most efficent solutions.


        Huh? What?
        I thought the ideal of Capitalism was that the rich get richer, and everyone else contributes to their wealth?
    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by hudsonhawk (148194) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @12:32AM (#20314493)
      There were also a lot of murmurs around during the lead-up to Blu-ray's launch that many of the studios declaring exclusivity to Blu-Ray were being paid to do so.
    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @04:50AM (#20315741)
      I think the big deal is being made because Microsoft is doing this to fuck up both formats. It really doesn't want Blu Ray or HD DVD to win the format war. It's only siding with HD DVD because in doing so draws out the battle even longer. The theory for Microsoft is that while Toshiba & Sony and their friends bleed each other dry, Microsoft can cleanup with download services and associated technologies such as codecs, DRM and mastering software.

      I predict lawsuits out of this. There is no plausible technical reason that two studios would simply jump ship like that unless they were bribed. I could see them go neutral possibly, but completely switching at the same time? This is has anticompetitive behaviour written all over it.

  • legality? (Score:2, Interesting)

    if they were paid to support one technology over another, isn't that illegal, anti-competitive and/or monopolistic behaviour by the HD-DVD consortium? If so, would it be illegal if the consortium were innocent but the payoff came from some backer who stands to gain from HD-DVD beating out Blu-Ray?
    • Re:Who Cares (Score:4, Informative)

      by Technician (215283) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @12:27AM (#20314473)
      if they were paid to support one technology over another, isn't that illegal, anti-competitive and/or monopolistic behaviour by the HD-DVD consortium? If so, would it be illegal if the consortium were innocent but the payoff came from some backer who stands to gain from HD-DVD beating out Blu-Ray?

      The market has a strange way of sorting some of this stuff out. While the players are several hundred dollars and the movies are well over $20 each, this is just a niche format at the moment. When the players are under $60 and the movies are under $15, wake me up. In the meantime, I'll stick with a Linux MCE setup and use the format that works in the movie jukebox. The last DVD player I bought retailed for under $30. Pre-viewed movies at Blockbuster are either 2 for $20 or 4 for $20. Only those with lots of cash will bother with the expensive formats. Right now they are in the Laserdisk catagory. Nice format, but limited selection at high prices. I did the Laserdisk thing. It had an advantage.. No copy protection. It met broadcast spec NTSC output unlike videotape.
  • Checks (Score:5, Funny)

    by revengebomber (1080189) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:29PM (#20314097)

    Microsoft, the most prominent technology company supporting HD DVDs, said it could not rule out payment but said it wrote no checks.
    The mafia always pays in cash.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Microsoft, the most prominent technology company supporting HD DVDs, said it could not rule out payment but said it wrote no checks.
      The mafia always pays in cash.
      Or they could have simply wired or direct deposited the money. That way they could say that they "wrote no checks" while sending the money electronically.
    • Re:Checks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jgc7 (910200) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @12:42AM (#20314541) Homepage
      "Microsoft, the most prominent technology company supporting HD DVDs, said it could not rule out payment but said it wrote no checks. "We provided no financial incentives to Paramount or DreamWorks whatsoever," said Amir Majidimehr, the head of Microsoft's consumer media technology group."

      The statement begs the question; how is it possible to make a payment but provide no financial incentive? There is no such thing as payment, that is not a financial incentive. A contingency is a financial incentive but not a check, but there is no such thing as a payment that is not a financial incentive. Either the reporter is an idiot, or Microsoft is full of shit.
  • by wooden pickle (1006975) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:32PM (#20314113)
    My initial reaction too was "Big deal! No story here!" But then I got to thinking. Is this really different than Microsoft using various incentives to get governments/schools/other customers to buy Microsoft products? Does it just feel different because it's a bunch of big evil corporations using shady practices to try and outdo each other?

    I've been saying since this format war started though that if someone REALLY wants to win, they should just pony up a ton of money to get George Lucas to release the unmolested, Greedo-shoots-first Trilogy in their format.
    • I've been saying since this format war started though that if someone REALLY wants to win, they should just pony up a ton of money to get George Lucas to release the unmolested, Greedo-shoots-first Trilogy in their format.
      Sweet! Mr. Ballmer's going to love this idea! Mmmmm, I can almost taste that big bonus now...
    • by Lisandro (799651)
      But then I got to thinking. Is this really different than Microsoft using various incentives to get governments/schools/other customers to buy Microsoft products? Does it just feel different because it's a bunch of big evil corporations using shady practices to try and outdo each other?

      Actually, the other part we're talking about here is Sony... remember the payola scandls?

      I agree on this story not being a big deal. Not because what these corporations do is right (by any standarts), but because of the names
    • I think thats a great idea about Lucas.

      On the other hand, please explain how this is a "shady practice"?

      I can only buy certain models of TVs at CostCo (PriceClub) compared to Circuit City. Models specifically made for CostCo, offered at a lowered price that you can't buy anywhere else. Target (I think, maybe K-Mart) only carries the Martha Stewart Line of household items. Howard Stern is exclusive on Sirius radio while Opie and Anthony are only on XM and have a deal to be broadcast over the air as
  • Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:37PM (#20314155)
    Wake me when one format bites the dust and players for the other format are $100. Till then I'll make do with DVD's.
    • by rts008 (812749)
      I hear you.

      I'm waiting to see if the floppy drive dies before DVD, or if the DVD will last as long as the floppy drive eventually does.

      • by Bartab (233395)
        Isn't the floppy already dead? I mean, what can you do with one that you can't do with a USB thumb drive?

        Note: Machines without USB connectors are either so out of the mainstream or so old that they don't really count as keeping floppies alive.
    • Precisely. With only decent eye-sight, and mediocre contrast resolution, I really don't care to buy a super-expensive piece of hardware, and more expensive videos, in order to get a better picture than the one I have which is already good enough that I can't really tell it has flaws. Honestly, to me at least, the whole super-high def war is kinda irrelivant. HD-DVD could win (honestly I'm rooting for them, simply for the HHD DWDD BVD jokes :P) and I'd still watch DVDs, same goes for Blue Ray.

      Honestly I don'
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by king-manic (409855)
        Your thinking the difference from 480i to 1080p is the same as going from 192k mp3 to 256k mp3's. It's actually more like goign from a 96k sample to a 192k sample. It's really noticeable. But it's only worth it if you enjoy spectacles because smaller scale fare like Borat is equally good in 256k You tube video to 1080p Blu-ray.
        • I can't tell the difference between a DVD and a HD Disk unless the TV is over 42". My TV isn't that big so I don't care.
  • Payola: Si or No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pedropolis (928836)
    Main Entry: payola Pronunciation: pA-'O-l& Function: noun Etymology: 1pay + -ola (as in Pianola, trademark for a player piano) : undercover or indirect payment (as to a disc jockey or perhaps a movie studio like Paramount) for a commercial favor (as for promoting a particular recording or for promoting a flagging HD format) We report, slashdot decides...
    • If a studio chooses one format over another, why is it simply not an "endorsement"? Seems to me TFA clearly mentions various "marketing" partnerships.

      Try to find a picture, of, say Tiger Woods that doesn't have a Nike Swoosh... details of the endorsement deal are "secret". That is an endorsement and marketing deal, not a shoe payola scandal.

  • because this looks like it will help broaden HD DVD's slipping ground to even it out more with the Bluray camp. I'm not a fanboy of any kind, but I am hoping that Blu-ray wins, simply because DVD5 and DVD9 discs do not cut it for backing up data when my computer has a TB hard drive. 25 and 50 GB discs are FAR more useful, and will inevitably fall in price once a format is established and large-scale production/adoption begins. I've seen films in both format and I think both are great. I'm sure as hell not
    • by demi (17616) *

      Even though I realize consoles aren't the best movie players by ANY stretch of the imagination.

      Apparently this isn't like playing DVDs on the PS2 was, and the Blu-Ray player and software in the PS3 is excellent, and well-regarded.

  • Having the write layer near the bottom surface should make it more vulnerable to scratches than HD. But other details matter like the plastic used, coatings, error correction.

    Has anyone compared HD and blueray on reliability?
    • I don't know if there have been comparisons, but BluRay *requires* the scratch resistant coating. The HD DVD standard makes it optional.
  • Apparently (Score:5, Funny)

    by kilgortrout (674919) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:48PM (#20314229)
    the checks were actually written by some Canadian company called BayStar Capital.
  • by brxndxn (461473) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:49PM (#20314239)
    This is unfair competition, imo. Here's why...

    You should never be able to pay a customer to specifically exclude a competitor. For example.. If you're paying a company a sum amounting to $10 to go with your product Y that costs $100 and exclude product X, it would mean your competitor would have to sell at $90 in order to compete - assuming both products essentially do the same thing. It artifically lowers the competitor's price... kind of like what has happened with AMD and Intel.

    • by DaveCBio (659840)
      You mean like videogame companies paying for exclusives to shut each other out? It's business. My biggest issue with Blu Ray is that the spec isn't even finalized. Unless you buy a PS3 there is a good chance buying a BR player might leave you in the lurch when new interactive features come out. For instance HD-DVD players have 2 video decoders and not all BR players do, so no pic-in-pic extras a la 300 for people that bought BR early.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Better tell that to Coke and Pepsi, apartment complexes who have exclusivity deals with telco providers, and all sorts of other businesses. Do you just "not like it" or do you have some rational reason why not? I certainly can't think of any rational reason. Both parties are willing to sign the contract, so I'm not sure whose rights are being violated.
    • You mean how Pepsi demands a fastfood chain not stock Coke?
    • by Afecks (899057)
      Easy there, Andrew Ryan. The market isn't always the answer.
  • by CubeNudger (984277) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:51PM (#20314249)
    Now that combo Blu-Ray HD-DVD players are becoming increasingly available and cheap, any studio would be stupid to not take a cash payout for (what may end being an ultimately meaningless) format switch. With the format war continuing for at least another few years (by all likelihood), it's conceivable that mass adoption of combo players as they become affordable will mean that format difference will ultimately be of as little meaning as DVD+/-R is now. Besides, with adoption rates lagging so badly, the losses from switching to a less-popular format over the next 18 months are probably outweighed by the cash payment. Great business decision by Paramount.
    • Yep. Roughly 3M HD and BD discs have been sold since the first one went on market like a year and a half ago or so. Last year over 1B, that's B as in Billion, DVDs were sold. This whole HD vs BD spat is but a tiny drop in the bucket. A drop that may just as easily evaporate into thin air as become a torrential rainstorm.

      It's a $150M of free money to Paramount.
  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:59PM (#20314313) Journal
    I can do without their movies for that long.

    -jcr

  • Arghhh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @12:11AM (#20314387)
    I have a 720p projector. It looks fantastic showing HD-DVD, which I picked at random. It is really nice to get away from lame DVD artifacts, and I figure if blu-ray wins, I'll finally have an excuse to buy a PS3. But let's summarize the other options, based on previous slashdot articles:

    0) "I haven't watched anything on a TV since 1970 and now I'm Jesus Christ"
    1) "Even if you don't watch broadcast TV, all movies are crap too. Ditto for music."
    2) "I watch TV and movies, but who would pay for them when you can steal, I mean find them online?"
    3) "I've never bought a DVD, so they'll pry $25 out of my hands for a blu-ray/hd-dvd disc when hell freezes over - I get them from the library, which is also my only social outlet"
    4) "I'll buy hd-dvd/blu-ray when it costs $10 and the discs are $1. My VCR is still running."
    5) "Physical media is dead anyway, in fact I don't even _type_ anymore because it involves physical contact."
    6) "All video formats are the same, and anyone who says otherwise is blind... I love my 12" vga monitor!"
    7) "LINUX LINUX LINUX!!!! Microsoft can suck my dick."
    8) "They all use DRM, so I'm going to boycott life, as soon as I get one."
    9) "First post!"
    10) "All companies are run by Nazis who also control your congresspeople, and you live in a police state that just wants to monitor what you watch. It's too late to do anything about it, but I'm Canadian, which means I'm an expert on how the US sucks."
    11) "DVI / HDMI / HDCP / WTF"

    So in summary, I have seen an actual HD-DVD played back on a quality LARGE screen, and it looks very very nice.
    Probably too good for you, if you don't care about movies. Or if you have anything less than a 60" screen,
    which is the same thing. I am COMPLETELY PISSED that there are two formats, and that the movie studios won't do both formats. Is it that big of a deal to master two discs? What a cluster fuck. If money changes hands, whatever. Hopefully there will be a decent dual format player soon. And don't get me started on why I can't rip a movie I paid for legally!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Half a dent (952274)
      "Is it that big of a deal to master two discs?"

      Yes when one of the big studios is owned by the same company that makes the discs/players.

      The move by Paramount and Dreamworks may have more to it than just the $150 million payout - Because Sony controls the entire process from making the movie, making the disc, the player and owning stores for distribution too (although it will sell through as many other retailers as possible of course), this gives it incredible power to say to other studios you do it our way
  • Region coding (Score:5, Interesting)

    by orangepeel (114557) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @12:59AM (#20314635)
    I'm glad someone's making a revitalizing effort on the part of HD-DVD, even if it means handing out buckets of cash. My biggest reason for supporting HDDVD over BluRay (other than a long-time dislike for Sony) is that HDDVD does not have any form of region coding, while BluRay does. I haven't seen that point raised here on Slashdot before, so I'm at the point of wondering if A) it's even correct, and B) if I'm really the only one who cares.

    We've seen big companies embrace globalization when convenient many times before, and then immediately turn around and implement artificial barriers so that consumers can't take advantage of that same global market (the stories here on Slashdot a few years ago about textbook manufacturers come to mind, where they would sell English versions of their textbooks in foreign countries at hugely discounted prices, and then fight over efforts of other companies and individuals to make those same books available back to customers in the USA).

    Region coding ought to be universally despised. So far as I know, with HD-DVD I don't have to worry about it. But Sony, showing their true stripes once again, embraced it with BluRay.
    • Re:Region coding (Score:5, Informative)

      by oGMo (379) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @01:38AM (#20314827)

      I'm glad someone's making a revitalizing effort on the part of HD-DVD, even if it means handing out buckets of cash. My biggest reason for supporting HDDVD over BluRay (other than a long-time dislike for Sony) is that HDDVD does not have any form of region coding, while BluRay does. I haven't seen that point raised here on Slashdot before, so I'm at the point of wondering if A) it's even correct, and B) if I'm really the only one who cares.

      Everything seems to point to HDDVD region codes:

      If anything, you should support BD over HDDVD simply because it's better technology (higher capacity storage), and if you want to go down the "corporate evil" route, Microsoft is far more evil than Sony, so BD wins by default.

      So far as I know, with HD-DVD I don't have to worry about it. But Sony, showing their true stripes once again, embraced it with BluRay.

      First off, BD is not a "Sony" format, anymore than Cell is a "Sony processor"; they're just part of the committees. One of many. Secondly, if anything, the lack of region codes on PS3 and PSP games should point in the opposite direction. The inclusion of region coding is like the inclusion of DRM---it's a feature that studios will want before they support the format, regardless of how ineffective or stupid it is.

      • Re:Region coding (Score:5, Informative)

        by orangepeel (114557) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:14AM (#20315025)
        Everything seems to point to HDDVD region codes:

        To me, no, everything does not seem to point to HD-DVD region codes (thanks for those links though). From that Amazon page, if you follow their "Read more about region encoding and how it may affect you here" link, you wind up at this page [amazon.com]. As you can see, regular DVD and BluRay region coding is detailed, but there is no mention of such a thing for HD-DVD.

        Furthermore, as you noted the other two links you provided are from last year, and refer to discussions that they were expecting to have this year about implementing region coding. Do you happen to have any information about whether those expected discussions have actually happened or not, and if so what the outcome of those "working groups" were?

        I'll also point out that the relevant Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] -- that fount of information that is never, ever wrong -- states that, "there is no Region Coding in the existing HD DVD specification, which means that titles from any country can be played in players in any other country." Alternatively, if you check out the Wikipedia article on BluRay [wikipedia.org] (which comes complete with a pretty map), you can see that the opposite is true.

        I'm sorry but the very concept of region coding bothers me so much that, until I see clear evidence that the same thing is going to be implemented with HD-DVD some day, HD-DVD easily wins over BluRay. Higher capacity be damned. I'll take at least some level of consumer-oriented freedom over that any day, thanks.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AndyboyH (837116)
          precisely the reason I went HD-DVD too.

          I live in the UK and I've imported over $3000 in Region 1 DVDs from the US/Canada. In Blu Ray happy DRM land - I can't. For I'm lumped in with Africa and Australia. I can't even import Japanese DVDs because they've defected from DVD region 2 (same as the UK) to BluRay region 1 (same as the US)
          Meanwhile my HDDVD collection is growing impressively due to the strong pound/dollar exchange rate, and the readily available set of import sites that offer around 40% discount of
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trogre (513942)
      You may be aware of this already, but I feel I should point it out for those who don't:

      Playstation 3 games do not have region codes.
      Nintendo Wii ones do.

      That is all.

  • by BAM0027 (82813) <blo@27.org> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @01:01AM (#20314641) Homepage
    According to this article [yahoo.com], Alan Bell says there are additional reasons including:

    For one thing, the lower prices of the players: It's good for consumers, it's good for our customer base. For another thing, HD DVD came out of the DVD Forum. The DVD Forum is very experienced at developing and managing specs. [HD DVD] was launched in a very stable way, with stable specifications, and they had specified a reference player model, so all players had to be compatible with the HDi interactivity layer, and all players had to be capable of the interactivity. So when we publish titles in the future that have interactivity, we can be assured that every HD DVD player will be able to handle this content.
  • Michael Bay (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trogre (513942) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @03:24AM (#20315389) Homepage
    Now that Paramount has lost Michael Bay [engadget.com] as a result of this (for better or worse) I wonder if they'll re-evaluate their position...

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @08:20AM (#20316713)
    . "We provided no financial incentives to Paramount or DreamWorks whatsoever," said Amir Majidimehr, the head of Microsoft's consumer media technology group.'"

    That does not rule out Microsoft providing financial incentiive to a HD-DVD intermediary organization who subsequently funneled the money to the studios.

    Your Microsoft Windows monopoly dollars at work, killing competition and preventing the consumer marketplace from deciding the better solution.

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