No Winners, And No End In Sight, In The Battle Of DVD Formats

Nearly two years after their introduction to the marketplace, the respective movie studio backers and hardware makers of competing home video technologies HD DVD and Blu-ray continue to fight over an infinitesimally small audience. Both sides have been betting on consumers’ growing adoption of HDTVs, which are necessary in order to obtain the full benefits of the brilliant picture quality and high resolution each format promises. A piece in News.com argues that the two camps may have greater disappointments ahead, as HDTV penetration might not be enough to entice consumers to trade up to a compatible player. Although eight out of every 10 TVs bought in August was an HDTV, according to market researcher NP, the report also showed that 73 percent of current HDTV owners surveyed said they’re happy with the basic DVD format and find upgrading to a new player unnecessary.

Another big drawback for consumers is the difficulty in being forced to choose between the two formats, as most Hollywood studios have lined up behind either Blu-Ray (includes Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures Entertainment, Disney, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate) and HD DVD (includes Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures, as well as Microsoft), with a variety of Warner Bros. titles available for one or the other. Rejecting the notion that the companies will eventually decide to call a truce and offer a single format, Josh Martin an analyst at the Yankee Group, tells News.com: “This is not a format war on technology, it’s a format war on content, and no one’s going to win.”