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Sony Pictures responds to your poll results, discusses the future of BD-Live


Last week's poll results and comments came through loud and clear, with an overwhelming majority of responses to the question "Have you seen anything impressive from BD-Live yet?" leaning towards the negative. That many people showing a beef against a key feature of the current dominant HD delivery format? We couldn't let that go so we followed up with Rich Marty, VP of Marketing for Blu-ray at Sony Pictures to let them know what you said, and see what they're doing about it.

Marty responded to questions about the plan for BD-Live by noting that Sony Pictures includes it on every title (up over 80 now) and while the first year was about laying the foundation of the technology, while now the company is turning towards education, providing more options for personalization, expanding the capabilities and taking advantage of its connection to the internet. Up next? Expect features like RSS feeds, live streaming events and integration with mobile devices as the Blu-ray experience continues to evolve, while it's not designed to replace the web they still see opportunities to enhance the on disc experience after release. A current example? The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray disc, launched last month, just this weekend was updated with video downloads of the Rome premiere of Angels & Demons, bringing viewers right in on the red carpet of the sequel, and letting them redeem coupon codes for tickets.

As for our unusual poll results? From Sony's end, he provided poll results from their BD-Live titles where out of over a thousand responses, 90% replied that that they were either very or somewhat more likely to use it on other Sony Pictures titles, and over 80 percent were more likely to purchase other Blu-ray discs with BD-Live on them. Between that, the now over 4 million visits to its screens, and over 100,000 unique visitors each week they're confident it is gaining traction and bringing viewers back to see what's new again and again.

We addressed the many concerns that BD-Live only serves to slow down movies, is taking up resources that could be put to use pursuing perfect audio/video quality and asked what would you say to the 42% who responded they saw no reason to try out BD-Live?

"We're not taking away from one thing to add onto this, we're just adding this on as a whole other complimentary benefit."

"On BD, we deliver to every part of that answer. First of all, the picture quality and audio quality are always top of the line for us. That's the very first thing. We always have the TrueHD lossless audio. We definitely never pull back on that. We also know there's a balance on added value, some people like to watch long featurettes but then we know there's this new generation we need to cater to as well, they really feel like their entertainment should be compelling, but always connected experience. So we want to make sure we have something that can always be new and fresh, and be downloaded as well but it shows the diversity of the platform right? Because there's always the best high definition picture that's available, it adds the best high def audio that's available, it offers added value content in high definition and it displays it, with incredible graphics and HD graphics and that end of it. Blu-ray titles have digital copy, and it enables, now, BD-Live. That's why this platform is so diverse and it's such a great offering to the consumer. It appeals to the people that love PQ, people that want to download things, people that want to be portable and on the go. We're not taking away from one thing to add onto this, we're just adding this on as a whole other complimentary benefit."

"On the speed part, we're constantly analyzing, and we've made multiple benefits to improve it. A lot of that is always going to be dependent on bandwidth of the user and what they may have locally, but we are constantly look at how to deliver content the fastest. The network portal itself, we've optimized it to make it as quick as possible. Just like all technologies, it will get faster, better and more compelling over time."

As far as finding out who is interested in what BD-Live has to offer, we were told that Sony estimates as much as 90 percent of its traffic is through the PS3, but especially with WiFi and out of the box Profile 2.0-capable players hitting the shelves this year -- like its own BDP-S560 -- they expect to see those numbers shift in the future. To get more involved than just the super connected gamer market, he mentioned Sony's different portals, family oriented, R-rated, PG-rated, and so on, and the inclusion of internet features on discs like Kramer vs. Kramer and Ghandi. The most popular features so far? Short form video content, like trailers or Da Vinci Code's exclusive video, with good response on other implementations like Casino Royale's trivia game and Step Brother's edit & share a music video section.

As year two of the BD-Live movement continues, recent developments both from Sony and others show studios may finally be getting a handle on what makes sense in bringing the internet to the living room movie experience, and they certainly believe it has the capability and expansions to improve far beyond what's been seen so far. There's no doubt that its picked up a negative rep around these parts, but its possible that things could turn around in time to satisfy both the hardcore already invested and the mass market customers the high definition disc format is hoping to pursue over the next year or two.

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