Warner Bros. Picks Blu-ray Over HD DVD
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Warner Bros. Entertainment said yesterday that it will release high-definition movie discs only in the Blu-ray format, rejecting the rival HD DVD format and creating another complication for consumers.
Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner, was the only remaining studio to release high-definition DVDs in both formats. It is the fifth major studio to back Blu-ray, developed by Sony. Only two support the HD DVD format, developed by Toshiba.
Both formats deliver clear high-definition pictures and sound. But they are incompatible with each other, and neither plays on older DVD players.
Warner said it decided to go with Blu-ray because consumers have shown a stronger preference for that format.
"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," Barry M. Meyer, Warner Bros. chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers and, most importantly, consumers."
The company said sales of Blu-ray discs in the United States totaled $169 million last year, while sales of discs in the HD DVD format totaled $103 million.
About 60 percent of Warner's sales of U.S. high-definition discs were Blu-ray titles and the other 40 percent were HD DVD, said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. Outside the United States, the difference was much bigger, Tsujihara said.
Sales of high-definition disc players also factored into Warner's decision. The company said sales of Blu-ray players accelerated at the end of the quarter, particularly in December, Tsujihara said.
Viacom's Paramount Pictures, which owns DreamWorks, dropped its support for Blu-ray and said it would start distributing films exclusively in the HD DVD format.
Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric, also releases films only in HD DVD.