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BD Live Growing In Function, Attraction

Culver City, Calif. Consumer demand for Blu-ray Disc’s BD Live interactivity is growing despite hurdles, Sony executives said during a press demonstration on the studio lot here this week, as they vowed to continue building momentum with new software and hardware features.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president David Bishop acknowledged that BD Live has faced obstacles, including consumers’ difficulty using it in their living rooms. People access BD Live content by plugging their Blu-ray players into broadband connections, but such connections are often located far away from their players in many Blu-ray households. Additionally, studios’ first BD Live-enhanced titles, which began rolling out about a year ago, have so far lacked the right bells and whistles. Sony promises to up its game and make BD Live an indispensable part of the Blu-ray format.

“We’re just in the Pong stage of BD Live,” said Bishop, likening the Blu-ray feature to the primitive computer game. BD Live’s “launch has posed many challenges for both Sony and the industry. There was the need for consumers to introduce their broadband connection to their entertainment system, which was generally located elsewhere in the home. It also has taken some time to grasp BD Live’s capabilities. Many of our initial features were regarded as a bit underwhelming.”

However, the studio cites growing interest in its own BD Live titles as proof that the technology will eventually gain traction. Also, Sony is working to launch new BD Live features, such as its first-time inclusion of Web-enabled movie cash for Angels & Demons inside April 28 Blu-ray release The Da Vinci Code.

About 3.5 million consumers have already accessed at least one Sony BD Live screen across the more than 80 Sony titles holding such Web capabilities. These screens attract an average of 100,000 unique visitors each week.

“We’ve learned that more than 90% of our BD Live visitors are either very or somewhat likely to access BD Live on other Sony Pictures titles,” noted Lexine Wong, the company’s senior executive VP of worldwide marketing. “Plus, over 80% of our visitors are either very or somewhat likely to purchase other Blu-ray movies, due to the inclusion of BD Live features. Sony Pictures has taken a number of steps to build a strong and consistent BD Live foundation.”

Sony’s latest Blu-ray players scheduled to hit stores in mid-July should also boost BD Live accessibility for consumers. The BDP-S560 will mark the company’s first built-in wireless set-top, helping people link to broadband even if connections are located away from home theater setups.

“Like any new platform, BD Live is merely undergoing some growing pains,” said Bishop, “which simply means we have to do a more effective job of focusing all of our efforts to ensure its success.”

Video Business is a sister publication of TWICE.

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