What’s the Big Deal With BD-Live?

The Dark Knight on Blu-ray Disc

Is BD-Live the way to salvage the future of DVDs? According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, studios are hoping the technology, which adds interactive features like chat and trivia games to Blu-ray movies, will boost sagging DVD sales. A big test of that strategy will come this week, when Warner Home Video releases its first BD-Live movie, The Dark Knight.

Warner Bros. is heavily promoting The Dark Knight‘s interactive features, suggesting that viewers, for example, “send invitations for screenings at a specified time and chat with each other as the movie plays.”

While the studio is using BD-Live features to promote The Dark Knight, BD-Live backers are undoubtedly hoping that the sheer popularity of The Dark Knight turns the spotlight to the capabilities of the technology itself.

And BD-Live, it seems, could use a boost. The article notes that Disney, which has been using BD-Live to allow viewers of some titles to chat on-screen with other users who are watching the same movie for some time, hasn’t had a lot of success with it. Of course that could, however, be due to the selection of titles offering the feature — among them, as the WSJ points out, Sleeping Beauty.

The WSJ rightly suggests the High School Musical movies might be a better fit for the BD-Live chat functionality. When I was 13, I spent most of my afternoons chatting on the phone with friends I’d just seen at school. If we’d had the ability to trade notes about Zac Efron without taking our eyes off the TV screen, I’m sure we would have loved every minute of it. 

Tweens aside, does anyone else want to watch their movies in a social environment — virtual or not? Besides the overpriced snacks and the sticky floors, the most irritating thing about watching a movie at the theater is the other people. Why bring them into your living room?

BD-Live isn’t the only technology that aims to add a virtual social element to entertainment, but most of the other options require a computer. CBS.com offers Social Viewing Rooms for some of its shows, and services like Paltalk and BuddyTV offer chat rooms where like-minded viewers can connect.

I’m not sure any of this is for me. Maybe I’m missing the point, but I just don’t get what the big deal is. Not yet, anyway.

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