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Blu-Ray 3D Exclusivity May Kill Format

To state the obvious

Sep 13 2010, 7:50am CDT | by

Blu-Ray 3D Exclusivity May Kill Format

Of the 25 Blu-ray 3D titles that are being manufactured and pressed this year, only six will be available on store shelves. And most of those aren't even heavy-hitting titles. As a result, there's a lot of mixed feelings about the future of the brand new format.

Blu-ray 3D is supposed to be the format that revolutionizes and fully takes advantage of the new market of stereoscopic 3D TVs. But there's a problem. Very few people own a 3D TV and it's expensive to create a Blu-ray 3D disc. As a result, there's been an interesting phenomenon: TV manufacturers are paying movie studios to cover the cost of the Blu-ray 3D production, and in return the manufacturer gets the exclusive rights to distribute that movie.

Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have all struck these deals with very major studios. Samsung gets the Blu-ray 3D rights to Dreamworks computer animated flicks, Sony signed a deal with Disney, and Panasonic will get the biggest 3D title of all - Avatar. So anyone who buys a non-Panasonic 3D TV will be systematically blocked out of owning the 3D movie that defined the entire 3D genre. At least for now.

All of this sounds good to the business people at these companies. TV manufacturers get a bargaining chip to get people on their side, and the studios hardly have to pay anything while they explore the new technology. But consumers are the ones on the losing end here.

High Def Digest calls this move one of the "biggest Blu-ray blunders," saying the format "is being crippled from the start, by forcing consumers to pick or choose their setup based on what movie they like more rather than what player."

For sure. There's only one Blu-ray 3D movie in actual stores right now: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a Sony Pictures movie. That movie also comes free with a Sony TV purchase, but Sony decided to make it available for regular consumers as well. Most other TV manufacturers, though, aren't part of a bigger corporation that can make its own 3D movies.

Luckily there are other forms of 3D content, including streaming 3D on Samsung TVs, ESPN 3D and DirecTV-owned 3D satellite channels, and PS3 3D games.

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