The hot topic at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show is: who will win the battle for the dominant DVD format, HD-DVD or Blu-ray?
The answer? You’ll have to ask the nation’s smut-peddlers.
As goes pornography, so goes technology. The concept may seem odd, but history has proven the adult entertainment industry to be one of the key drivers of any new technology in home entertainment. Pornography customers have been some of the first to buy home video machines, DVD players and subscribe to high-speed Internet.
One of the next big issues in which pornographers could play a deciding role is the future of high-definition DVDs.
The multi-billion-dollar industry releases about 11,000 titles on DVD each year, giving it tremendous power to sway the battle between two groups of studios and technology companies competing to set standards for the next generation.
One side of the divide is a standard called Blu-ray backed by consumer electronics heavyweights like Sony Corp. (6758.T), Philips Electronics (PHG.AS) and Thomson (TMS.PA) and movie studios Fox and Disney. Blu-ray offers storage up to 50 gigabytes, enough for nine hours of high-definition content.
On the other side of the fight is HD-DVD, which has much the same structure as current DVDs and, backers say, is cheaper and easier to manufacture as a result. Supporters of the disc format and its 30 gigabyte capacity include companies like NEC (6701.T), Toshiba Corp. (6502.T) and Warner Home Video.
Adult film producers want the higher quality picture as well as extra space for creative expression — like giving viewers choice of camera angles.
Hollywood has begun lining up on both sides of the battle as they have watched the growth of DVDs slow. They will want a new standard in place soon, to accelerate again.
Many are watching the porn industry to see what happens.
“That whole business has driven technology adoption of several platforms,” said one major studio executive. “A better, more intense experience is a good thing for porn.”