Czech market may see new DVD technology this year


    The Czech video market will stay with the classical DVD format longer than elsewhere in Europe, partly because it’s still lucrative, says a top DVD distributor. But some films produced in the new DVD technology may show up by the end of the year.

    “We are now on top in revenues from DVD video format and this trend will last at least two years,” Pavel Borowiec, chief executive of DVD Group.cz (web.dvdgroup.cz.com), said in an interview with FNE

    DVD video distribution was the favourite format for the mass release of Czech films in the late 1990s, but new recording technology is on the horizon, predicts a report in the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes on Oct. 3.

    Media analysts Screen Digest, in a report released in London Sept. 17, said the two rival high-definition video formats – Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD – will probably co-exist for the foreseeable future. It predicted that studios opting exclusively for one format—such as Sony, Fox and Disney have done with Blu-ray—could miss out on $175 million in consumer spending by not publishing their films on HD DVD as well.

    In the Czech Republic, meanwhile, earnings from classic DVDs are currently the highest since they appeared on the market a decade ago, according to Borowiec. He estimated that more than 3 millions DVDs will be sold to Czech and Slovak shops and rental stores in 2007. Gross revenues from DVD and video sales were 24% higher in the first half than during the same period in 2006, totaling 269 million Czech crowns (€9.9 million).

    The introduction of DVD technology in 1997 was a boon for domestic films.

    “One of the top years was 2004, then sales weakened due to piracy and the lack of good films, but this year is a record one,” said Borowiec.

    It’s still not clear which new DVD format will be become the standard for the Czech film industry. Czech film producers will have a strong say in the matter. For example, leading Czech distributor Bontonfilm (www.bontonfilm.cz) cooperates with Sony, and thus Borowiec believes that Blu-ray may be the victor.

    However, Vratislav Benda from Fermata a.s. (www.fermata.cz), which manufactures disks of all kinds, believes that some popular Czech films such as Jan Svěrák´s Empties or Jan Hřebejk´s Teddy Bear, will appear on HD DVD by the end of this year.