Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Two more big nails in the coffin of HD DVD:
Netflix and Best Buy back Blu-ray

With the video industry having picked an apparent winner in the face-off between the two competing high-def DVD formats, Netflix, the world's largest online movie rental service, yesterday said that it will move toward stocking Blu-ray, and no HD DVDs.

Citing the decision by four of six major movie studios to make high-def DVD titles only in Blu-ray, Netflix said that it will purchase only Blu-ray discs and will phase out the competing HD DVD high-def format, developed by Toshiba.

Since the first high-definition DVDs came on the market in early 2006, Netflix has stocked both formats. But the company said that in recent months the industry has stated its clear preference for Blu-ray and that it now makes sense for the company to initiate the transition to a single format.

While only a portion of Netflix subscribers have elected to receive high-def DVDs, a majority of those subscribers have chosen Blu-ray over HD DVD. As part of the transition to Blu-ray, the company said it will acquire no new HD DVDs but that its current HD DVD inventory would continue to rent until the discs' natural life cycle takes them out of circulation in the coming months.

When Warner Home Video announced last month that by mid year it will release high-def titles exclusively in the Blu-ray format, it joined fellow majors Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Buena Vista in endorsing Blu-ray. Currently, the two remaining majors, Paramount and Universal Studios, publish in the HD DVD format.

Netflix currently stocks over 400 Blu-ray titles, having recently added popular releases such as "Across the Universe" (Sony), "Gone Baby Gone" (Buena Vista) and the Academy Award nominated "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.). Blu-ray titles scheduled for release in the next month or so include the Academy Award nominated "No Country for Old Men" (Walt Disney), "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" (Sony) and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (20th Century Fox).

Also yesterday, giant electronics retail chain Best Buy announced that starting in March it will begin “prominently showcasing” Blu-ray Disc hardware and software in its stores and online.

They said the decision was made to give consumers direction and clear up confusion that remains in the ongoing HD disc format war. The will continue to carry an assortment of HD DVD products for customers who want them.

“Consumers have told us that they want us to help lead the way,” stated Brian Dunn, Best Buy president/COO. “We’ve listened to our customers, and we are responding. Best Buy will recommend Blu-ray as the preferred format. Our decision to shine a spotlight on Blu-ray Disc players and other Blu-ray products is a strong signal to our customers that we believe Blu-ray is the right format choice.”

Dunn added that “Best Buy has always believed that the customer will benefit from a widely accepted single format that would offer advantages such as product compatibility and expanded content choices. Because we believe that Blu-ray is fast emerging as that single format, we have decided to focus on Blu-ray products.”

“With the explosion of HDTVs, customers are hungry for quality, high-definition content. We believe our move to feature Blu-ray should help consumers feel confident in their hi-def content choices,” said Mike Vitelli, Best Buy’s home solutions senior VP. “Best Buy is excited by the next generation of digital products and we know our customers are too. We are excited about helping customers find the right mix of products and services to make the next generation of high-definition entertainment technology come alive for them. We believe that Blu-ray is the right solution for consumers.”

Editor's Note: Back in 2006, right in this blog, I predicted that Blu-ray would win. As Nelson Muntz would say, Haa-ha.

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