China: Sony Premieres Blu-ray

In a land where counterfeit electronic media (along with most other goods) is legendary, Sony Pictures is set to become the first major studio to set its sights on China to distribute its titles on Blu-ray. Only a tiny percentage of Chinese consumers have the means to access next-generation TV equipment—but even a tiny percentage of 1.3 billion people equals millions of new consumers.

Last weekend (Nov. 22) Sony Pictures began selling about 30 titles (both new and classic movies) in the 1080p disc format, which it developed. Initial price points are about $30 per disc—rather high in a nation where tens of millions still don’t make $30 a day in wages.

In order to enable access the 1080p disc content, Sony is simultaneously launching its BDP-S350 Blu-ray player in several major Chinese cities, according to Variety. Walt Disney Studios is reportedly a few months away from launching some of its titles in Blu-ray, along with Warner Bros. and perhaps other major Hollywood players.

Ironically, since it seems that virtually everything these days is made in China, Sony said its first Blu-ray titles will have to be imported to the world’s most populated country until local production plants can be arranged by the Japanese manufacturer.

Pirated HD discs are now available for sale in China, although the AVCHD products are not as high in quality as 1080 Blu-ray content. Last month, Chinese police confiscated several hundred fake Blu-ray discs (HD Notebook, Nov. 21, 2008).