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Netflix Backs BluRay, Drops HD DVD

dvd warsThe HD DVD next generation DVD format went on life support went Warner Brothers pledged their loyalty to rival Blu Ray just before the start of January’s Consumer Electronics Show.  A dramatic price cut in January 14th has done little in the way of resuscitation.   Now, in a signal the format’s days are growing especially short, DVD rental service Netflix is dropping HD DVD too.

While Netflix doesn’t rent a tremendous volume of high definition discs, they’ve stocked both Blu Ray and HD DVD since 2006.  Per their new decision, which was announced today, they will phase out all HD DVD discs from their inventory by the end of the year.  They will also cease adding new HD DVD titles effective immediately.

In a statement Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said “the prolonged period of competition between two formats has prevented clear communication to the consumer regarding the richness of the high-def experience versus standard definition.”  The company added that “from the Netflix perspective, focusing on one format will enable us to crate the best experience.”

Blockbuster, Netflix’ primary rival for the U.S. DVD rental market is also endorsing Blu Ray.  They made the decision to offer it exclusively last summer.

Toshiba and the rest of their consortium behind HD DVD have made no comments so far.   In the past, they have pledged to fight on.  But there can’t be much fight left.  

Paramount and GE’s Universal are the only major studios still behind the format.  As previously reported, they can switch sides at any time. Universal’s agreement is, in fact, already confirmed expired.   It’s hard to believe their support will last, even with deep financial incentives,  as Blu Ray gains more and more advantage. 

It can’t be long before HD DVD is officially euthanized as a format for commercial consumer video.  Maybe it, and some of its better features, will live on for digital storage. But their consumer video war is done.


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