DVD War Over High Definition, Most Buyers Are Sitting It Out

December 31, 2021

What if nobody wins the high-definition DVD format wars? Blu-ray discs sit alongside the competing HD DVD format.

According to data from Adams Media Research, 578,000 HD DVD and 370,000 Blu-ray machines will be sold by the end of this year.

Studios allied with the Blu-ray camp include Columbia, Disney, Fox, Lionsgate, Miramax, New Line and Sony.

In the HD DVD camp are DreamWorks, Paramount, Universal, the Weinstein Company, and several smaller TV and motion picture companies. High-definition DVDs of both formats provide superior picture and sound quality compared with standard DVDs.

Only high-definition sets can display high-definition DVD images. “Today, an HDTV owner hooks up a standard DVD and it looks good,” said Ken Graffeo, executive vice president of HD Strategic Marketing at Universal, and co-president of the HD DVD Promotional Group. According to research by NPD Group, only 11 percent of HDTV set owners strongly intend to buy a Blu-ray or HD DVD player by next spring. Blu-ray and HD DVD proponents are doing what they can to change that attitude. HD DVD players, the vast majority of which are made by Toshiba, still have the price advantage. Blu-ray units are also made by Panasonic, Philips, Sony and others.

As prices drop, high-definition DVD drives will find their way into other devices. The 400 movies available in each format are a fraction of the 90,000 movies and TV programs that the video rental company Netflix offers. Increasingly, high-definition DVDs are being issued simultaneously with the standard definition DVD release.

Of Blockbuster’s 5,000 physical stores, 250 offer both high-definition DVD formats, while 1,450 rent only Blu-ray; the rest offer none. As more consumers buy HDTVs, and the price of dual format players drop, an uneasy truce may descend. “When high-definition DVD reaches its tipping point, studios will have to release their movies in both HD DVD and Blu-ray,” Mr. Adams said.

Source: NYTimes

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