Looks like Warner Brothers has tipped the Hi-Def DVD War in favor of Sony's Blu-ray format against the Toshiba | Microsoft HD-DVD format. However, market data indicates Blu-ray has been establishing a big lead since the beginning.
Variety | 4 Jan 2008 ...
Warner Bros. all but signed the death warrant for HD DVD on Friday, when it dropped its format-neutral approach to back Blu-ray exclusively.
Nielsen VideoScan data show Blu-ray's dominant 61% share since the formats' inception growing to 66% for the first three quarters of 2007, before the WB news ...
The major studios lining up behind Blue-ray include ...
- Warner Brothers
- New Line
Warner Bros. exclusive commitment to Blu-ray means about 70% of movies now will be released in that format, leaving Paramount, Universal & DreamWorks as the only major studios with exclusive commitments to HD-DVD.
"Sony DVD move deals blow to Microsoft" | Financial Times | Richard Waters, Paul Taylor & Marico Sanchanta from CES in Las Vegas | 6 Jan 2008
Evidently the studios have been concerned about buyer "confusion" between the two HD formats ...
"By us being both, we were playing into consumer confusion," [Warner Home entertainment's] Tsujihara said. "There's a window of opportunity with first-time buyers of HD TVs to also buy a high-def player at the same time," he added.
"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Barry Meyer seconded.
... and also about the cost of supporting two HD standards at a time when the overall DVD market has been tanking under assault from the evolving refinement of the segmentation of media delivery channels from cable TV's Video-On-Demand and Pay-per-View options we see on our cable guides to the cheaper and efficient online movie rental model of Netflix.
Tsujihara's comment is interesting in light of my public prediction last Christmas (2006) that HD flat screen TV's were about to enter the key middle-market price points below $1,000.
People are inclined to lament the fall-off in old forms of media, from newspapers, to feature films, to pornography, to book publishing; however, it's clear that new channels, formats and distribution models -- particularly digital -- are helping media across the board take on its more natural shape. If this is generally lower-cost and lower-quality content like the user-generated content of blogs and YouTube, then that is the more natural state of media given so many eyeballs and hours per day, and the costlier and higher-quality content is more precious if less widely valued across the populations.
How much does the failure of HD-DVD reflect a conscious rejection of Microsoft, I wonder?