Friday, February 25, 2011

How "High-Definition" and "Netflix" beat me into submission...

For years I worked in the video postproduction/DVD industry, so I’ve probably forgotten more about video compression/broadcast video and the technical specs of DVD/Blu-Ray and streaming video then most people in the general public know or are even aware of. Blu-Ray came out, and yes I fully admit it was better, but the price to quality upgrade ratio was unimpressive, DVD to Blu-Ray WAS NOT VHS to DVD. As people were screaming from the mountain top, to ditch their DVD’s and upgrade, I stood pat.

High-Definition Television and Televisions began to proliferate more and more into the market and people would scream from the mountain tops to replace everything but I stood pat. Downloads and streaming became popular, “The Disc business is dead!” everyone said, but I stood pat all the while knowing I would eventually have to make the switch.

This February I got a letter from Bell Canada (My Internet and TV provider), that my current service was being discontinued as the technology was obsolete, the universe required I get to upgrading.

Bell Fibe TV offered a fantastic deal on a PVR /HD receiver along with their service and I doubled my internet cap to accommodate my new Blu-Ray player with built in Netflix connectivity. The prices are now at an all time low and I’ve officially made the switch.

The Netflix service is simply fantastic, granted its selection of new releases is to put it mildly…awful, but for some television and older movies it’s just great. On standard def streaming there is some slight video pixilation and break up, but for $7.99 nobody in their right mind will complain. High def streaming certainly does cut down on the break up, but being mindful of your internet cap, along with turning off HD streaming on your Netflix account settings, should keep most reasonable people safe from over billing.

It is certainly nice to have access to the improved pictures that HD television offers, but it’s something that could be lived without, at least until every broadcasting channel out there all go to High-Def and there is some sort of conformity on our (cable) airwaves.

I could go rant about the threats of UBB based billing, the general gauging that the service providers participate in and what the CRTC should and should not be doing, but much more knowledgeable people on the subject have produced much better reading material, so I will digress.

To those who think the disc business is dead, in my humble opinion you are wrong. With the variety of delivery systems that are out there to consume our various media sources it’s easy to jump on that bandwagon. I submit to you two simple points.

a. The optical disc, be it CD, DVD or Blu-Ray will be the LAST physical format.
b. The back catalogue physical media business is probably dead.

There will always be a percentage of the marketplace that wants to have a physical copy of whatever entertainment they are consuming, but for older titles(and especially with Film/TV) a streaming service will ultimately be accepted by the masses.

Our new world of entertainment consumption does not have one delivery medium anymore, it has several. Nobody needs to replace anything, but everyone needs to access these delivery systems in order to catch up with the technology that often leaves a fair percentage of the population behind.