Why did Beta fail and VHS win???

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Ryan Wishton, Sep 15, 2003.

  1. Ryan Wishton

    Ryan Wishton Screenwriter

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    Here is a question I have been wanting to know... I was alive during this format war, but was way too young to remember... So, this might be known by others...

    Didnt Beta and VHS come out at the same time or around the same time??? Just like DVD-/+???

    Beta supposedly had better quality and smaller tapes... Now, how come people attracted to VHS more??? You would think people would want better quality and smaller tapes to store???
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Sony decided to charge a premium licensing fee for Beta, while JVC gave away the licensing to VHS at no cost.
     
  3. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    tapes weren't all tht different in size and you could record longer with VHS.
     
  5. Mark:F

    Mark:F Stunt Coordinator

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    The big reason that VHS won out was because the smaller beta tapes had a 1 hour capacity, while VHS offered 2 hours at the start. By the time Sony got to 2 hours (maybe a year later)it was all over. I have a new,very good Sony vhs vcr and a 5 year old Sony super beta...the beta outperforms in most respects...better quality recording, faster forward and rewind, better slo mo....need the vhs to rent, borrow,etc., otherwise wouldn't have it.
     
  6. Darryl_B

    Darryl_B Stunt Coordinator

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    I wouldn't say Beta totally failed - it's very popular in the professional a/v industry. Now Sony gets away with charging double the price for Beta Tapes and astronomical prices for Beta recorders to the professionals.
     
  7. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    My recollection from the time was that the 1 hour duration was a big issue; no one wanted 2 or more tapes for every movie other than Gene Autry B westerns that ran 55 minutes. By the time Beta solved this, VHS had developed a dominance in the consumer tape market that never went away. I think that was incidentally one of the motivations that was behind the length of a CD--being able to fit Beethoven's Ninth onto one disc without changing, as you had to do with LPs, usually twice. So Sony did learn, if the hard way. A seamless web...
     
  8. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    Yep, Greedy Sony. They did the same thing with the Mini-Disc If they had first come out with Reasonable Prices on the Mini-Disc Players/Recorders all are cars would now have Mini-Disc Players in them instead of CD Players. You think Sony would have learned from the Beta Fiasco.
     
  9. NicholasL

    NicholasL Second Unit

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    Darryl_B has a very good point. Beta, BetaCams, and BetaCamSP all exist within "the industry" far more than VHS because the quality is tremendously better. For dubs, board screenings, or anything of the sort, beta tapes are circulated within the offices, hardly ever VHS from my experience in 6 different studios.
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    The two Marks have it correct (from the consumer perspective). The recording length was a major, mass-consumer issue. Beta (in the States) only lasted as long as it did because of a small core of fans who desired quality above all else.

    But a good many people wanted to tape for extended periods—and as the VCRs became more sophisticated, the longer taping issue was even more important, as you could go away for the weekend and get multiple shows taped.

    Cost was not doubt an issue, but Sony surprising got what the market really wanted wrong.
     
  11. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    But that's just it: by the time the war was actually won by VHS, tape length wasn't *the* issue. It was licensing, and the VHS people actually did a much better job of marketing their products than just Sony by itself.
     
  12. Paul.Little

    Paul.Little Stunt Coordinator

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    It was a question of vision. Sony's concept of the home video recorder was only for use taping television programs. Someone in the VHS arena saw a future full of home video movie rental stores. Sony scoffed at that, and the rest is history.
     
  13. John Di Lauro

    John Di Lauro Stunt Coordinator

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    Paul, I think you hit the key issue. In 1979 I visited the first video rental store in our area (Paramus, NJ). They had perhaps 200 titles on Beta as opposed to thousands on VHS. Perhaps JVC, more than Sony, realized the potential of the rental market to sell machines, which is why they licensed the technology to other manufacturers.
     
  14. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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    Sony actually developed both but rejected VHS as a technically inferior technology. Licencing and marketing then ran its course.
     
  15. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    JVC developed VHS.

    Beta failed because Sony wouldn't license the technology at first. JVC came up with VHS and cheap licensing and before Sony could blink, a slew of manufacturers had VHS recorders on the store shelves.

    As a consumer, you go shopping for a recorder and see VHS decks from Panasonic, Toshiba, Pioneer, etc. and only a couple of Beta decks only from Sony. Which would you pick?

    After the tide hit, Sony offered to license Beta, but it was too late.
     
  16. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Don't forget porn. One thing I've always heard was that in addition to all the previous reasons given, Sony didn't license it to porn studios, VHS did not make the same mistake. Porn has had pretty big impact on the DVD market also. It's also been very beneficial to on-line sales and rentals.
     
  17. DAN NEIR

    DAN NEIR Guest

    I always found it said that Beta failed It is/was the superior format. Ironically I'm currently in the process of transferring alot of material from my beta machine to my panasonic e80 dvd recorder. After I'm done I'll be throwing away alot of beta tapes since I don't really have any friends who have a beta player anymore.
     
  18. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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    Here is an interesting page on this.
     
  19. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Very interesting!
     
  20. Kevin Deacon

    Kevin Deacon Second Unit

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    Now Sony has SACD... Will it succeed without Sony players?
     

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