The Blu-ray Disc Association has taken issue with announcements from satellite and cable providers that they offer “full HD” programming – but report says Blu-ray not threatened by full HD broadcasting

Satellite and cable providers on both sides of the Atlantic have recently claimed they are offering full HD – or 1080p – programming.

These assertions have annoyed the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) – not least because the publicity material has stated video quality matches that of Blu-ray.

The BDA is objecting to these claims of equality, suggesting the comparisons are irresponsible and misleading.

It argues that satellite companies cannot technically match the Blu-ray experience and it will do whatever it can to prevent consumers receiving incorrect information.

However, a report from Strategy Analytics suggests that satellite providers are competing primarily with cable and IPTV companies, and not with the Blu-ray Disc format itself.

It states that Blu-ray content providers and device vendors have little to fear. Instead, they should focus on developing emerging Blu-ray business models and improving the availability of Blu-ray content and devices.

Despite this, a statement from the BDA said advertising by companies claiming their products deliver high definition picture and sound “equal” to that delivered by Blu-ray Disc are “irresponsible and are misleading to consumers”.

“Up conversion and satellite broadcast cannot provide a true Blu-ray high definition experience, as neither is technically capable of producing the quality delivered by Blu-ray players and Blu-ray discs,” the statement said.

The BDA said it was exploring these claims further and will take “appropriate action”, as necessary, to prevent consumers seeking the ultimate in high-definition home entertainment from being misled.

David Mercer, principal analyst at Strategy Analytics, said 1080p, or Full HD, is the video quality benchmark set by the Blu-ray Disc format.

“It was inevitable that television service providers would seek to emulate this standard, but their aim is primarily to increase the pressure on rival services, rather than compete with Blu-ray itself,” he said.

DirecTV and Dish Network in the US, as well as cable operator Numericable in France, have recently introduced Full HD programming in the 1080p format.

However, according to Strategy Analytics research, many consumers are confused by HDTV services. In the company’s most recent survey, 15 per cent of European consumers believe that they are receiving HDTV service, whereas in reality the figure is only 2 per cent.

Mercer said that one of the main objectives of Blu-ray Disc developers was to set a benchmark in video quality that would provide sufficient encouragement for DVD owners to upgrade.

It was also to provide a challenge that few, if any, alternative video distribution platforms could hope to match, at least in the foreseeable future.

“Those assumptions are now being questioned by recent announcements from broadcasting service providers on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said.

“These claims have clearly struck a sensitive nerve within the Blu-ray community, which, given their strategy as outlined above, is perhaps not surprising.”

Mercer said that instinctively he agreed with the BDA because he didn’t believe that DirecTV or Dish would actually be offering programming at the same level of quality of BD.

But he added that the technical arguments to prove the claim that they are not “technically capable” of doing so could be very difficult to prove one way or the other.

“In the end, these new Full HD initiatives are more of a statement of competitiveness against rival service providers than against BD itself,” he said.

“As has often been the case in the past, the satellite providers in the US are battling against cable companies, and now IPTV providers, to set new benchmarks in quality and customer experience.

“The 1080p story is just another phase in that competitive battle, but it is unlikely to seriously affect Blu-ray’s potential.”

Is the BDA right to get stroppy? Will this end up in the courts? Please let us know your thoughts.

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