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Tuesday, 01 April 2008 07:09

Blu-ray replication problems continue

Written by David Stellmack


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An estimated 80 production lines needed


As we told you during CES in some of our hi-def disc coverage, a good majority of the smaller and medium sized disc replication houses were rooting for HD DVD to win the format war. While HD DVD was not perfect, replicators were able to make adjustments to current DVD production lines and they were able to press HD DVD titles.

Of course, this would lead to a lower cost per disc because there was a very small upfront cost to press HD DVDs. Blu-ray, on the other hand, requires a hefty upfront cost to purchase entirely new equipment to produce Blu-ray discs. Now with the end of the format war, disc replicators are being forced to make that investment, regardless of whether they want to or not. For small and medium-sized replication houses the cost of $1.7 to $2.5 million per line is hard to swallow.

The fact is that industry analysts estimate that at least 80 new Blu-ray production lines will be needed to not only meet the demand of HD video content that is being moved to Blu-ray, but to produce all of the PlayStation 3 Blu-ray software titles. Many industry analysts believe that the end to the HD format war will see a large surge in PlayStation 3 sales as being a cheap gateway to getting a 2.0 profile Blu-ray player with the added benefit of being able to play PlayStation 3 games on it.

Blu-ray discs simply cost significantly more to make and that fact is not being lost on many studios, as well. The cost to do a small run of about 25,000 Blu-ray discs hovers at between $4 to $5 per disc. By way of comparison, for a similar size run of standard DVDs, the cost averages about $1 per disc and can even be less if the production run rate is higher.

The cost of Blu-ray discs is also higher because the defect rate of Blu-ray discs is much higher. Depending on whom you talk to, the defect rate can be as high as 25% to 35%, which, of course, adds to the cost. Defect rates are also higher on the dual layer 50GB discs than they are on the 25GB single layer discs.

Many replicators continue to say that Blu-ray discs are not easy to make. Even with all of that possible business on the horizon, many replicators suggest that the amount of money to buy Blu-ray replication equipment is almost cost prohibitive when you take the current defect rates into account.

From the consumer perspective, these increased costs will continue to be passed on to the consumer for many years to come in the form of higher prices. With the price of Blu-ray production lines and the high defect rate, it is obvious that the price of Blu-ray titles will not be falling any time soon. Still, Blu-ray will have to bring the prices down, as electronic digital delivery and video on demand continue to be a threat to a physical media format such as Blu-ray.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 April 2008 09:37

David Stellmack

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