Letter to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

1 Star Studio's digitals are inconsistent across retailers

The following was sent as a letter to Keith Le Goy, President, Distribution & Networks, Sony Pictures Entertainment on October 5, 2022. It was sent as a consumer, and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Home Theater Forum.

As of December 6, 2022, I have yet to receive a response.

Keith Le Goy
President, Distribution & Networks
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA  90232

Dear Mr. Le Goy:

As a consumer, I can understand the reason for studios pushing for us to transition to digital platforms from physical media – less overhead, little to no shipping costs, etc. However, what I find frustrating is how inconsistent the same movie will be available across various digital retailers in terms of audio and video formats, and then to further frustrate matters, when those inconsistencies are brought up to both the studio and the retailer, the retailer claims that they are at the mercy of what the studio delivered to them, and the studio claims that it is up to the retailer as to what video and audio specifications are made available on a title by title basis on their platform.

So, which is it? Both the retailer and the studio cannot be correct. I have attempted to contact your Customer Care department at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on several occasions, only to receive the following answer: “We have forwarded your concern and unfortunately, as a studio we cannot control what versions of our titles digital platforms offer to their consumers. Our content gets sent over to the retailers and they choose what version of the movie that platform will carry.” If that is the case, then why are all Sony movies on the Movies Anywhere application and website only available in, at best, 4K HDR10 and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 when Movies Anywhere supports both Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio? When I contact Movies Anywhere customer service, I am simply told “Unfortunately, that is what the studio sent to us” which contradicts the statement provided by your Customer Care department.

Let’s go one step further and look at some various movies from my Movies Anywhere library, both on Movies Anywhere itself and on retail partners iTunes/Apple TV and Vudu on the attached spreadsheet. Several titles have no consistency across retailers with no rhyme or reason. Some are missing Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos (or both) on one retailer, but not the other. Some redeemed as HD on one retailer even though 4K HDR was available on that retailer at the time of redemption. This lack of consistency, plus the complete lack of both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos on Movies Anywhere even though the service supports those formats, has really put me off from digital. And I really hate to say this, but your studio appears to be the worst with this lack of consistency.

Why is the classic Lawrence of Arabia missing a Dolby Atmos track on iTunes/Apple TV, yet Vudu has it in both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos? Why is 1776 missing any version of HDR and Dolby Atmos on all digital platforms when it was remastered and released on UHD Blu-ray with HDR and Dolby Atmos on May 31, 2022 (the same can be asked regarding The Guns of Navarone)? Why was Real Genius recently upgraded to 4K HDR on Movies Anywhere, but only has a STEREO soundtrack when both Vudu and Apple TV include a Dolby Atmos track? These are just a few examples, but I have a attached a spreadsheet detailing the various audio and video formats my Movies Anywhere library of Sony movies are available in across the three major digital platforms I use (do not even get me started on Prime Video).

When can a customer expect these issues to get resolved, or at least receive a more coherent answer to why these issues even exist?

Sincerely,

https://www.hometheaterforum.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/JacksBack02-1.jpg

P.S.: What’s the deal with the scratchy audio on the stereo track included on both the 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray discs of Real Genius (UPC: 043396579859)?

 

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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John*Wells

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I have a beef with Sony also regarding the Cobra Kai TV Series. it seems that Season 1 and 2 were available for Digital purchase through I tunes/Apple Store. However Seasons 3-5 are not. Seasons 1-4 have been released on DVD so far which I am grateful for.

And not to Jack Todd's thread but I have similar beef with Disney regarding some of their titles Especially Fox properties. For example, The original 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street is on D+ Along with the 1994 version. So where is the 1973 Version with David Hartman and Sebastian Cabbot?
 

Robert Crawford

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I have a beef with Sony also regarding the Cobra Kai TV Series. it seems that Season 1 and 2 were available for Digital purchase through I tunes/Apple Store. However Seasons 3-5 are not. Seasons 1-4 have been released on DVD so far which I am grateful for.

And not to Jack Todd's thread but I have similar beef with Disney regarding some of their titles Especially Fox properties. For example, The original 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street is on D+ Along with the 1994 version. So where is the 1973 Version with David Hartman and Sebastian Cabbot?
This is not the thread for your discussion points. This thread is not about missing titles. It is about Sony's inconsistent quality and formats across retailers regarding titles available digitally. I will delete any further posts that might sidetrack this thread from that subject matter.
 

DarkVader

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I'm a bit confused. My copy of "Annie" on Movies Anywhere is HD with 5.1 audio but I see that it's listed in Todd's chart as being available in 4K on that platform. Am I missing something?
 

Todd Erwin

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I'm a bit confused. My copy of "Annie" on Movies Anywhere is HD with 5.1 audio but I see that it's listed in Todd's chart as being available in 4K on that platform. Am I missing something?
Movies Anywhere is sometimes confusing. After the spreadsheet was created, MA changed their listing to 4K rights but not currently supported on Annie.
 

Lee Sandersen

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My problem with digital downloads versus a bought disc includes many of the authors points, but also, the DRM silliness. Many companies will not allow anything but a single device, say one TV. No actual computer playable files that one could copy for back up and put into a RAID for whole house distribution. I have not tried to download purchased material for quite a while, so maybe this has changed. Why all the fuss? To dissuade piracy? I got news for ya fellas, it is there anyhow, so why punish those of us who are honest legitimate customers? I still prefer buying real discs for quality and as a back up, plus I can rip them for my own use to use as I please. Too bad those days are numbered. I think that after discs, I still would like to somehow purchase a digital copy of something that I can hold in my hands. Perhaps flash drives.
 

Robert Crawford

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My problem with digital downloads versus a bought disc includes many of the authors points, but also, the DRM silliness. Many companies will not allow anything but a single device, say one TV. No actual computer playable files that one could copy for back up and put into a RAID for whole house distribution. I have not tried to download purchased material for quite a while, so maybe this has changed. Why all the fuss? To dissuade piracy? I got news for ya fellas, it is there anyhow, so why punish those of us who are honest legitimate customers? I still prefer buying real discs for quality and as a back up, plus I can rip them for my own use to use as I please. Too bad those days are numbered. I think that after discs, I still would like to somehow purchase a digital copy of something that I can hold in my hands. Perhaps flash drives.
I understand your position of contention, but it’s off-topic for this particular thread.
 

Todd Erwin

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My Best Friend's Wedding is yet another blunder from Sony on the 4K digital front. Most are missing HDR, no one has Dolby Atmos.

Movies Anywhere: HD, DD+ 5.1 (This title is not supported in 4K error)
Vudu: UHD (no HDR), DD+ 5.1
Apple TV: DV, DD 5.1
Prime Video: UHD (no HDR), DD+ 5.1
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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Unfortunately for all the enthusiasts w/ (good enough) DV and/or Atmos capabilities, you're probably in too small a minority (of those who care enough) for the studios, storefronts, et al to prioritize (for such issues), especially for this particular market (so far), I guess...

Since I'm not DV-capable (and barely HDR-capable at all) and ended up not upgrading to Atmos (for foreseeable future) afterall, I certainly haven't bothered w/ these issues myself -- for foreseeable future, I only care whether it's 4K at all or not (and just hope such issues will be ironed out enough by the time I maybe someday can make real use of DV, or even full use of HDR10, and/or Atmos)...

Also, ultimately, if I care about a title quite that much, I'd probably own the 4K disc (w/out such issues) anyway... at least while discs are still being produced/available that is -- I know this thread is about digital/streaming, but IMHO, this is related enough... at least until such issues make any meaningful progress to resolution anyway... and it's not like we have tons of traffic here afterall...

_Man_
 

Todd Erwin

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Still no word from the studio, and yet another title is missing HDR and Atmos everywhere.

Remains of the Day
Movies Anywhere: 4K (no HDR), DD+ 5.1
Vudu: UHD (no HDR), DD+ 5.1
Apple TV: 4K (no HDR), DD 5.1
Prime Video: UHD (no HDR), DD+ 5.1
 

Mark-P

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Still no word from the studio, and yet another title is missing HDR and Atmos everywhere.

Remains of the Day
Movies Anywhere: 4K (no HDR), DD+ 5.1
Vudu: UHD (no HDR), DD+ 5.1
Apple TV: 4K (no HDR), DD 5.1
Prime Video: UHD (no HDR), DD+ 5.1
That’s because Remains of the Day has been available in 4K digital for years now, and none of the digital retailers have upgraded to the new release yet, in which Atmos and HDR are new.
 
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