Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG–including, inter alia, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies, and MTV Films–announced today (Monday Aug 20th 07) that they will release their next-gen DVD titles exclusively on HD-DVD, dropping the Blu-Ray format. Want to watch Transformers, Shrek the Third, and Blades of Glory? Gotta do it in HD-DVD, if you’re looking for that 1080p picture on your flatscreen. (And as we all know, the new Battlestar Galactica is HD-DVD only.)
Paramount described HD-DVD as superior due to “market-ready technology” and the “affordable high quality choice for consumers.” Paramount found that HD-DVD offered better quality, lower-priced players, and lower manufacturing costs.
This, of course, has been HD-DVD’s selling point all along–HD-DVDs can be produced more cheaply than rival Blu-Ray, with few modifications to existing factories that produce DVDs, and the discs are more durable and resistant to wear and tear.
This should put to rest, somewhat, European Commission concerns that Blu-Ray had somehow strongarmed movie studios into acceptance of the Blu-Ray format.
I for one am thrilled, having the HD-DVD addition to my 360, a prolific HD-DVD renter from Blockbuster (who rents HD-DVD by mail, though they’ve chosen (perhaps time to rethink) Blu-Ray for in-store rentals). I’m also eagerly in line for the Blade Runner HD-DVD release coming December 18th (also on Blu-Ray). (New Blade Runner site HERE.)
But the real story is what a molehill this entire HD format debate is right now. Despite claims months ago that HD-DVD was the pre-eminent format, now Blu-Ray claims it’s outselling HD-DVD two to one, in disc sales. But this is, ladies and gents, a true molehill. The Blu-Ray advantage is, of course, driven largely by the tepid acceptance of the PS3–and even millions of tepid buyers can affect a market that’s as small as the “next gen” HD market. And in sales of next-gen HD players, Blu-Ray has only a very slight lead–by no means a solid lead. The players are, at this point, interchangeable. HD-DVD ups the ante with its $299 Toshiba player, available October 1st.
And so, it seems important to put this “war” in perspective. In fact, this isn’t a “format war.” It’s a spitwad game right now, and not a format war at all–consider this:
On 8 Aug 07, High-Def Digest reported that–for the first time in history–oh, you better be on the edge of your seats for this one, it’s a doozy–yes, it’s true, during the first six months of 2007, consumers bought more Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs than videotapes!!!!!
If you let that sink in, you’ll see the significance of that news. As the article goes on, “VHS is now all but dead.” If the next-gen market is just nosing ahead of VHS sales, this war is a grand illusion. Hasn’t even started yet. Hang on–by the time you’ve chosen your format and purchased a few discs, the download wars (YouTube? Apple TV? Xbox Marketplace? Verizon FiOS?) will be going strong. Blu-Ray may indeed win the war, when it comes–but, so might HD-DVD.
Enjoy your purchase–if you’re in the market for a HD format at all this early in the game, your versions will last you a good many years. You can’t go wrong either way.