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James Hibberd

Warner Backs Blu-ray

January 4, 2008 12:57 PM

Blu ray DiscWarner Bros. has swung into the Sony Blu-ray camp.

The company announced that “in response to consumer demand,” it will release its high-definition home video titles exclusively in the Blu-ray format starting later this year.

“Warner Bros.’ move to exclusively release in the Blu-ray disc format is a strategic decision focused on the long term and the most direct way to give consumers what they want,” said Barry Meyer, chairman-CEO, Warner Bros. “The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger. We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass-market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers and, most importantly, consumers.”

Blu-ray outsold the Toshiba-backed rival HD DVD format by more than a 2-to-1 margin during most of 2007. Warner Bros. currently issues titles in both formats.

“A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue stream that it can be for the industry,” Kevin Tsujihara, president of the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, said.

“Consumers have clearly chosen Blu-ray, and we believe that recognizing this preference is the right step in making this great home entertainment experience accessible to the widest possible audience,” he added. “Warner Bros. has worked very closely with the Toshiba Corp. in promoting high-definition media and we have enormous respect for their efforts. We look forward to working with them on other projects in the future.”

In short: If you received an HD DVD player for Christmas, you might want to ask for a receipt.

UPDATE: Warner Bros. responds: "Toshiba is quite surprised by Warner Bros.' decision to abandon HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray ... We were particularly disappointed that this decision was made in spite of the significant momentum HD DVD has gained in the US market as well as other regions in 2007. HD DVD players and PCs have outsold Blu-ray in the US market in 2007.We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps."

UPDATE 2: Toshiba cancels HD DVD press conference at CES.


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Comments (4)

Interesting. Guess that leaves NBC Universal, CBS, and Viacom as the last HD-DVD-only companies.

The end of the format war is near with this announcement by Warner Bros.


Well, Paramount just recently signed an 18 month exclusive contract with HD DVD so unless they can buy their way back out, then Paramount is stuck for another year an a half with HD DVD.

Too bad, I have both formats and prefer HD DVD. Admittedly, it is a bad day at the HD DVD camp.

Well, maybe Toshiba/Microsoft have something else up their sleeve.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it Sony that caused this format war to begin with? As I recall, way back when, Toshiba and Sony did meet at one point to try to consolidate on one format and Sony told Toshiba to go fly a kite.

Also, recently, a third HD format launched just in the last month or two. I don't remember the name right now.

Paramount was paid $150 million to only release new titles on Blu-Ray until Feb. 2009. Which was a no-brainer since it would have made much less than that in profit selling high-def DVDs of both types combined.

Paramount did not recall the blu-ray discs it already had out there - probably because they were selling better than HD-DVD discs of the same film.

There is no indication that the studio won't switch back to supporting both formats or go Blu-Ray exclusive once the contract is up next year.

NOTE: the Uni/Para HD-DVD exclusivity does not apply to any Spielberg-made or produced films, he personally controls which format they will come out on - if any.

The conspiracy side of me is thinking Paramount Home Video is probably secretly hoping that Blu-Ray does end up the eventual winner with the result of the possible sale of the same HD movie twice to the same household.

CORRECTION -- Paramount was paid only to support HD-DVD - not Blu Ray.

This is what happens when I am watching the rain out the window as I type.

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