Is BD-Live even necessary?

BD-Live functionality on certain Blu-ray movies makes it easy for content makers to add features after a movie is released, but it can also make it more annoying to access the content.

We've never been completely sold on BD-Live as a major selling point for Blu-ray. While special features on DVDs are certainly nice, the vast majority of people don't have the interest or time to watch more than the main movie. Blu-ray movies also have special feature sections, plus some movies have even more features available via BD-Live, which you can access with an Internet-connected Profile 2.0 player. While there are certainly plenty of cinephiles that want to watch every deleted scene and featurette available, we doubt it will be forcing many people to upgrade from DVD.

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While it's easy to consider BD-Live a relatively unexciting extra feature of Blu-ray, we have started to see some potential downsides. For example, early this week High-Def Digest reported that the Transformers Blu-ray now has new BD-Live content available. Transformers on Blu-ray came out in September, so we doubt that the new short "Robot Ninjas" was created over the last month--more likely it was held onto to continue to generate interest in the movie.

On one hand, it's good that content makers continue to add content, but on the other hand you could say, why wasn't this available on the disc in the first place? We headed over to Blu-ray Statistics to see if Transformers possibly took up an entire 50GB Blu-ray Disc, but it only takes up 45.75GB--surely there's enough room to fit an extra short. That's not the only example. Walk Hard also has a couple extra shorts available via BD-Live, and that disc takes up 46.87GB. From what we've seen, we're pretty sure the extra content could fit on the Blu-ray Disc if they wanted to. The movie already includes an extra Blu-ray Disc for special features, and we doubt the extra content fills up that much space.

In a lot of ways, BD-Live reminds us of Senior Editor David Katzmaier's discussion about online HDTV firmware updates . While it's great that companies can add functionality after a product is released, it also makes it easier to ship unfinished products. In a perfect world, we'd like to see standard special features on the actual disc--so that people without Internet-enabled Blu-ray players can watch them--and keep BD-Live to content that truly need to be served over the Web. In fact, BD-Live could actually be pretty cool if it's used to serve up timely content, such as clips of the film winning an award or perhaps recent news about the actors. But as it stands now, it seems like more of a gimmick than a feature.

What do you think? Will BD-Live eventually become a killer feature for Blu-ray? Or will disc makers just use it as a gimmick and make it more difficult to view special features?

 

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