When it comes to replicating high definition content, there has been quite a lot of publicity about Blu-ray costing a lot more than HD DVD to replicate in bulk, mainly put down to Blu-ray’s design that makes it impossible to modify existing DVD stamping equipment to replicate Blu-ray discs with. Even the adult film makers have been complaining about Blu-ray’s costs. However, one thing that has not been made clear is how much of a difference there really is between the two competing formats. Well, Wes at WesleyTech went to investigate by contacting a few optical disc industry contacts and published an article with some very interesting results:
The first plant (kept confidential) which replicates both formats mentioned it costs $1.15 per 15GB HD DVD and $1.30 per 25GB Blu-ray disc based on a quantity of 25,000. DVDs cost $0.50 per Dual Layer disc for the same quantity at this plant. While Blu-ray looks more expensive to start with, let’s not forget the capacity difference, where a single layer Blu-ray disc is closer to a Dual Layer HD DVD disc capacity. At the second plant, which produces Blu-ray only, he was quoted $1.35 to $1.45 per disc based on a quantity of at least 25,000. They also do 50GB Dual Layer Blu-ray disc replication at $2.15 to $2.25 per disc also based on a quantity of 25,000.
The third company, ProActionMedia makes their pricing publicly and while their pricing is more expensive than the first two plants Wes contacted, it clearly shows the difference between Blu-ray & HD DVD disc replication publicly on their Website. For a quantity of 25,000 discs, ProActionMedia charges $1.45 per 15GB HD DVD disc and $1.59 per Blu-ray disc. However, as a Single Layer HD DVD is not enough for some movies, the movie industry often has content replicated on dual layer HD DVD, which costs $1.69 per disc based on a 25,000 quantity from this replication company.
Finally, one interesting point Wes makes about the replication costs is that most HD movies are replicated on Dual Layer HD DVD and Single Layer Blu-ray media. As a result, it actually works out move expensive to replicate movies on HD DVD in most situations. Of course, this does not include setup fees and other costs such as authoring, AACS copy protection, packaging, etc. As a result, these extra costs will need to be added to the replication costs.
At this stage, some would ask just how much the setup costs would be. Well, Wes had a look into this by contacting his first plant again and published another article comparing the difference of the two. Apparently for a replication of a large quantity of discs, the plants normally waive the mastering fee. As the studios typically use 30GB Dual Layer HD DVD and 25GB Single Layer Blu-ray media, let’s take a look at the fees for these: The plant charges $3,000 for 30GB Dual Layer HD DVD and $2,500 for 25GB Single Layer Blu-ray media in setup costs and $1.30 per disc of either of these two formats based on a quantity of 5,000. So for this small quantity, HD DVD works out cheaper when the setup fee is taken into account, assuming the studio can manage with Blu-ray’s 25GB capacity limit for its Single Layer format. Even for larger quantities where the setup fee is waived, both these two formats work out at the same price from this plant.
So in the end, while Dual Layer Blu-ray replication costs more to setup and replicate than Dual Layer HD DVD, most movies do not need to avail of Blu-ray’s Dual Layer capacity. Even if a movie does need Blu-ray’s Dual Layer 50GB capacity, then if the studio decided to also release it on HD DVD, they would either need to either reduce the quality to fit on a 30GB Dual Layer HD DVD or release two HD DVD discs to retain the quality, not to mention the extra costs associated with two HD DVD discs instead of a single Blu-ray disc!