Billions of DVDs headed to digital cloud, Warner executive says
To get consumers excited about managing their movies online and steer them away from cheap rentals and piracy, Warner Bros. wants to lead the way in persuading people to convert billions of DVDs into digital files.
Warner Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara discussed the studio's new initiative, called "disc-to-digital" at the Morgan Stanley technology, media and telecom conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. It will allow consumers to use a variety of methods to turn their DVDs into digital copies stored in a virtual "cloud" that they can watch on Internet-connected devices.
"'Disc-to-digital' is the solution to unlock the value of existing libraries," Tsujihara said. "We're leading industry efforts to launch services so consumers can convert libraries easily, safely and at reasonable prices."
The first phase of "disc-to-digital," Tsujihara said, will let DVD owners take their discs into stores that will handle the digital conversion. Later on, Internet retailers like Amazon.com will email customers to offer digital copies of DVDs they previously bought. Eventually, consumers will be able to put DVDs into PCs or certain Blu-ray players that will upload a copy, similar to the way people turn music CDs into MP3 files.
Tsujihara didn't say when digital conversions would start or how much they would cost. He did mention that people who own standard DVDs will have the option of getting a high-definition digital copy for an extra fee. The potential audience is huge, the Warner executive said, given that about 10 billion DVDs have been sold in the U.S. and another 10 billion overseas.
"Disc-to-digital" could help to promote UltraViolet, the multi-studio initiative that gives consumers digital copies of new movies they buy on DVD. As the chief executive of Warner Bros.' parent company Time Warner Inc., Jeff Bewkes, did Tuesday, Tsujihara defended the rocky start for UltraViolet last fall. However, he added, "The launch wasn't perfect, I'll be the first one to admit it."
Persuading consumers to keep buying movies and building collections in the digital age is crucial to the bottom line of Warner Bros. and Hollywood's other major studios, Tsujihara said. Sales are 20 to 30 times more profitable than low-cost rentals from Redbox or Netflix.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Kevin Tsujihara. Credit: Warner Bros.