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Blu-ray v. HD DVD: Can You Believe This Is Still a Debate?

Blu-ray adoption is gradually killing HD DVD, or at least that’s how it appears. Retail advantages, bigger support base in Hollywood, and a slightly cheaper PlayStation 3 all suggest that the Sony-backed medium will ultimately prevail over Toshiba’s HD DVD.

“We are starting to see the pendulum swing slowly in [Blu-ray’s] direction,” says Chris Roden, analyst with Parks Associates. “Recent retail developments, support from major Hollywood studios, and inclusion of the format in the PlayStation 3 puts the Blu-ray format in the lead.”

Just today, Target announced it will exclusively sell Blu-ray players in lieu of HD DVD ones, at least through the holiday season. In June, Blockbuster said 85 percent of its stores would exclusively offer Blu-ray rentals as they significantly outpace HD DVD rentals the retailer said. HD DVD will still be offered at the other 15 percent of Blockbuster stores and by way of the company’s website.

In Hollywood, five out of the six major film studios along with several independents are supporting Blu-ray. The lone studio not backing the format is Universal, which exclusively supports HD DVD. With the exception of Sony and Disney, many studios release HD movies on both Blu-ray and HD DVD.

But even though deals are being made among the big boys, consumers don’t seem to care. According to one report, less than 10 percent of U.S. consumers are familiar with either HD DVD or Blu-ray. Some Blockbuster stores are even putting up signs saying “don’t rent this movie unless you know you have a Blu-ray compatible DVD player.” People don’t buy things when they are confused.

But what if consumers don’t know what they’re buying? That’s largely the strategy behind the inclusion of Blu-ray into the PS3, and Microsoft offering an HD DVD add-on for its Xbox 360. In an effort to expedite purchases, Sony dropped the PS3’s price to $499 earlier this month. In turn, Microsoft dropped the price of its HD DVD drive on Thursday to $179, also including five free movies with proof of purchase. You do what you can for a shot at the estimated 175 million console gamers.

Despite Blu-ray’s recent in-roads, however, web video, digital distribution and general consumer apathy will likely prolong the Blu-ray vs HD DVD battle. It’s obvious things are a little more complicated than the good ‘ole Betamax vs. VHS days.

9 Responses to “Blu-ray v. HD DVD: Can You Believe This Is Still a Debate?”

  1. It seems to me that the big retailers decided the HD battle. Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, etc. all chose blu-ray over HDDVD. I can’t complain though…I bet on Blu-ray from the start. :)

  2. Blu-Ray has won, period. Since the general public has so many computer problems, virus, user error, kids. This prevents the general public from adding an entire collection of movies on a hard drive. If you’re PC crashes and you spent hundreds of dollars on the collection then what?

    Sorry Blu-Ray will be around for a while!!!!

    Look at the facts
    Blu-ray offers significantly more storage space — 50 GB on a dual-layer disc versus HD-DVD’s 30 GB.

    Almost double the space??? Can you really argue that???

    Most of the motion picture industry seems to support Blu-ray, in part because the need for new manufacturing equipment might cut down on piracy.

    Not to mention Blockbuster is claiming a 5 to 1 ration blu-ray over HD DVD!

    Good luck hope this helped!

  3. Hmmmmm – Congress passed a law that all new TV’s have to be HDTV compliant by March of 07 (or include a tuner.) And that all BROADCASTS have to be digital by Feb 2009. So, is BluRay compatible with what Congress has passed?

  4. The entire format war is anti-consumer. Universal and Sony should both agree to license their films on both formats and let consumers decide which ones they prefer instead of trying to dictate a standard. In a digital world, there is no reason to argue over formats. It wouldn’t cost the studios anything extra, to provide two copies of their films, on the other hand, if a consumer buys a Blu-Ray player and the format goes bust, than they are out the money. There’s no way that I’m spending my money on an HD upgrade unless the studios learn to get along. The longer they wait, the more entrenched VOD will be. If they really want to salvage their DVD sales, they need to learn how to get along with their customers.

  5. I’m in no particular rush to adopt wither format – a perfect example of the “apathy” you talk about.

    My personal opinion is that both formats will fail, and sooner than you think, replaced by digital distribution. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen, but the studios are much more likely to prefer it because they can keep a tighter control over their content.

    Also, Microsoft didn’t include a HD DVD drive because they wanted to keep costs down, and also so they could provide a solution for users to watch whichever format is the winner. At the minute, with no winner, they’re only backing HD DVD because they’re on the committee that controls it!

  6. Joseph

    Blu ray seems to have the momentum but dvd is still the standard and that won’t change for years. HD dvd has a very poor strategy and is not taking advantage of brand recognition….hd tv ….hd dvd…I just don’t understand the marketing strategy…it’s mind boggling…

    it’s not like either are superior to the other…hd dvd’s biggest shot is to somehow convince microsoft to include it in the 360 and not as an add on….

    If this doesn’t happen hd dvd will eventually die.

    BTW, I own an hd dvd and love it…