TV DVD in the High-Definition Era: ‘Heroes’ Release Raises Questions

This past week, Heroes was announced to be coming to DVD later this year (August 28th, to be exact); it was one of the first series announcements, however, to also have word of its day and date HD-DVD release. That’s right: Heroes fans can enjoy their hit show in High-Definition when it releases in August. Over the next week, Disney will be announcing its own Hi-Def Announcements (On the Blu-Ray platform, likely), so shows like Lost or Grey’s Anatomy could also be getting this treatment. However, there’s a few things I think we need to consider. (An awesome site for news on TV shows making their way onto DVD) has written a story where they discuss this issue, and in it they’re talking about what effect this will have on the battle between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. This is all well and good, and I think it’s an important part of that puzzle…but what does it do for us as fans who might wish to buy season sets of our favourite shows? Will it fundamentally change the content on normal DVD releases?

I raise this point because the HD-DVD release of Heroes has extra bonus features compared to the traditional DVD release. This makes sense, really, considering the space available, but will it come to a point where DVD releases are going to get shafted? Where the best bonus features are held over for the High-Def releases? In the case of Heroes, the HD-DVD special features list 12 video commentaries…while the DVD features list only a single one by creator Tim Kring on the extended pilot. If this holds…well, I know that as a person without an HD-DVD player this irks me as a precedent.

Right now, understandably, the HD-DVD version of Heroes is priced higher than the regular DVD release. At this point, TV on DVD pricing is at its lowest point ever, and I don’t think we’re going to see the regularly priced DVDs go up in price any time soon (People would get angry). However, it is possible that those DVD releases might become more bare bones in their nature as studios try to cut costs and recoup them through high-definition sales at the higher price point. In order to keep pricing low, bonus materials which are sometimes already in short supply might be shoved aside to ensure maximum profits.

I worry that DVD prices won’t be changing, but that we’ll start to get less value for what we’re buying. Studios will be so caught up in getting people to invest in high-priced technology that those of us unwilling to do so will be left with whatever’s left over. As more and more shows start to release on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, will DVD-owning viewers be forced to miss out on some of the coolest extras? And will we be forced to pay more for less, even though the DVD format could do better?

This week, Lost and other Disney-owned shows will be making their announcements for their DVD sets to release this fall. After that, perhaps, we’ll have a better idea of just what the future holds for TV DVD in the wake of the high-definition era.

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Filed under ABC, Heroes, Lost, Television, TV DVD

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