HP to make Sony DVDs

Times Staff Writer

Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to announce today that it has signed an agreement with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to create made-to-order DVDs of some of the studio’s movies and TV shows.

The agreement, whose terms were not disclosed, boosts Palo Alto-based HP’s ambition to play the middleman in the future of how entertainment is distributed.

Sony is the first major Hollywood studio to work with HP in its fledgling business of making DVDs of movies, TV shows and other video content only when someone orders them -- much like HP rival Dell Inc. does with computers. It will allow consumers to order DVDs of some of Sony’s older or more obscure programming, which retailers tend not to stock because it’s not economically viable.

By making DVDs on demand, HP says it can help studios unlock the value of their libraries and give consumers more choice.


“We’re hoping this provides another option to make available products that wouldn’t necessarily garner widespread retail shelf space,” said Jason Spivak, senior vice president of strategic development at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, a division of Sony Corp. of America.

The agreement comes a month after HP ended its 11-month-old video download service with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. HP had powered the service on that sold customers TV shows and movies to download to their computers on the same day as DVD releases. But download sales were reportedly not strong.

Separately, HP has started a DVD production business and already has agreements with 40 content partners for 5,000 titles, including classic science fiction movies, exercise videos and children’s series. The titles aren’t on sale yet, but HP said it planned to soon announce partnerships with websites that would sell these made-to-order DVDs.

“This is part of HP’s effort to transform digital entertainment,” said Doug Warner, vice president of HP’s digital content services business. “If studios can sell more catalog than previously, they can generate more money.”