Future of Home Entertainment: Why Hollywood Needs a ‘Digital Bridge’ to Work with Electronics Biz

New electronics devices like Blu-ray players should include massive hard drives in order to deliver and manage movies in Ultra HD across multiple devices

CD Digital

Hollywood needs to build “a digital bridge” with the electronics industry as studios look to grow their homevideo businesses, according to Mike Dunn, president of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

That’s especially true as both industries move to release more of their films in the 4K Ultra HD format, which while boasting sharper imagery and sound, requires more data to play on devices.

Since streaming such large files isn’t as cost effective of a delivery method as HD video currently is on services like Netflix, future Blu-ray players should include massive hard drives with at least 1-terabyte of storage, to boost interest in future homevideo releases.

Such devices are currently in development, with the first to be released in 2015. The electronics industry predicts there will be more than 874 million connected devices in 2015 that can connect to entertainment (see image below).

A so-called digital bridge will provide “a pathway for new connections between consumers and their content,” Dunn said during a keynote Monday at the CEA Industry Forum at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Century City.

In order to make devices more attractive, however, content needs to be easier to access.

While companies are touting the benefits of storing content in the cloud, Dunn actually went old-school, pushing for more electronics manufacturers to build larger hard drives into their new devices, which would enable more consumers to store content, especially larger Ultra HD files.

With a DVD or Blu-ray player already in over 101 million households in the U.S., Dunn called the devices one of the most important pieces of real estate for content, and as those players get replaced, the next-generation Blu-ray player with a built-in hard drive “will be the obvious choice” for consumers.

The device will need to play all disc formats and Ultra HD video in 4K, offer up wireless Internet connectivity, enable content to be managed and move it to any device.

Dunn also suggested that consumers should be able to copy their physical discs and store them in a digital library in one location — a device in the living room where most entertainment is consumed — and access new content for their favorite titles, including interactive experiences, through the cloud to keep fans engaged in older library fare.

“This is where a closer link between entertainment and consumer electronics companies drive big time growth,” Dunn said.

Dunn made the remarks as he unveiled the Fox Innovation Lab, an in-house “digital petri dish of sorts” to study “the emerging role of digital media and the need to evolve our business as technology advances,” he said. The lab is meant to “nurture collaboration, foster new ideas and fast track new approaches” as the studio attempts to stay ahead of new device launches.

Studios like Fox are trying to make sure their films and TV shows are available on as many devices as possible. While there are now 558 million Internet-connected video devices — from smart TVs to smartphones — there will be 874 million in 2015, Dunn said. The average size of a TV will be 65 inches and deliver improved sound and video.

“Your hardware and devices create connections,” Dunn said. “Our storytelling and characters create emotional bonds.”