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Vivid’s Steve Hirsch On Adult HDTV

WWW [TV] – As CEO of Vivid Entertainment, the top adult film studio in the U.S. with stars such as Jenna Jameson, Hirsch could arguably decide the winner in the format war between Sony’s Blu-ray and Toshiba’s HD-DVD.

If Hirsch (and his fellow adult execs) choose one format over another, millions of adult fans might decide to buy that player and its high-def DVDs. The early explosion of sales could be enough to force the rival format out of business.

Think it can’t happen? That very scenario played out in the 1980s when the adult world got behind VHS, leaving the Beta industry in the dust.

In an interview with, Hirsch, whose company generates $100 million in sales annually, says he doesn’t believe in picking winners. However, he reveals that his studio’s first high-def DVD will be on Blu-ray and not HD-DVD.

Hirsch also comments on whether Sony’s Play Station 3 will give Blu-ray a boost and why cable and satellite TV operators seem to be ignoring adult HDTV.

Here’s the entire interview with Vivid’s Steve Hirsch:

TVPredictions: So, will your first HDTV DVD be Blu-ray or HD-DVD and when will it be released?

Steve Hirsch: We will be releasing our first high-def DVD in the first quarter of 2007. We’re working on it now. It will be a Blu-ray DVD and it will have multiple angles. You will have the option of watching two different angles of a scene.

TVP: Will you release the title in HD-DVD later in the year?

SH: As of now, it will just be Blu-ray. But that’s not to say we won’t release it in HD-DVD later.

TVP: Why did you choose Blu-ray for your first movie?

SH: We’re working with a (production) company that has been involved with Blu-ray from the inception so it made sense. We’re also very excited about Play Station 3 and its Blu-ray player. That is very exciting. But they need to get those players out there. (Editor’s Note: Sony will launch the Play Station 3 video game console, which includes a Blu-ray player, on November 17.)

TVP: But you’re not backing Blu-ray over HD-DVD at this point or picking a winner in the format war?

SH: No. Blu-ray seems to have the momentum. But we’re not in the business of picking winners. We will produce content for all formats. It’s important that we do so. We have shot more than 40 films in high-def and have been shooting in HD for more than a year.

TVP: Do you think there needs to be a single format before the high-def DVD players take off? Many consumers are concerned that they will pick the wrong format.

SH: New technology takes time to get penetration into people’s homes. The studios are getting behind it (high-def DVDs) so it will get there. Maybe there will need to be just one format but we will offer content for both.

TVP: What is the name of your first Blu-ray title? And how many high-def DVDs will you release in 2007?

SH: I don’t want to reveal the name of the first title. It will be a brand new release, though. We will probably release four (HDTV DVDs) in 2007 but we’ll see how it goes.

TVP: Why aren’t HDTV adult films carried by cable and satellite TV companies? (DIRECTV dropped Spice HD a year ago.)

SH: You’ll have to ask the cable and satellite guys. But there’s plenty of content available in high-def. We’ve been shooting on film for the last 20 years so we can go back and (re-master) movies for HD. And we have shot more than 40 titles in HD during the last year. Maybe they think there’s not enough HDTVs out there yet; not enough people watching. Maybe they are saying, ‘Let’s get the non-HD content first so we’re not known as the high-def porn guys.’

TVP: The former president of Playboy TV told me a few years ago that he was concerned that adult actresses might not look good in high-def. That the picture is too clear. Is that a concern?

SH: I don’t agree with that. I understand what (he) was saying. You do see every inch of a person’s body. But it took time to get the right filters so the girls look good. We’ve made a living because we have the most beautiful girls. We make sure the girls look good.

TVP: What can HDTV do for the adult industry?

SH: It can prolong the life of the DVD. We’re starting to see a shift from DVD to VOD (Video on Demand). But this will give people a reason to get the DVD.

TVP: Do you think that adult HDTV DVD will expand your audience?

SH: It just might. Look at the Internet. Everyone said don’t put your programs on the Net. But it expanded the audience; more people got interested. It could happen with HD.


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