Warner Bros: Blu-ray All The Way

The WB has chosen a favorite from the two high definition formats, and will begin releasing its titles exclusively to Blu-ray later in '08.
Animation World Network is calling it the "end to the HD format war" that pitted some of the industry's biggest consumer electronics companies against each other.

Warner Bros. Entertainment set the electronics industry abuzz, on the eve of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, when the movie mammoth announced that it will release its high-definition DVD titles exclusively in Sony's Blu-ray disc format, beginning later this year.

While the news actually fulfilled a prediction posted by Business Week Online way back in October '05, it still caught Blu-ray's rival, HD DVD Promotion Group, with their pants down. MARTYN WILLIAMS of IDGN News Service reported that the group cancelled its scheduled Sunday-evening CES news conference and subsequent media interviews.

Toshiba said it was "quite surprised" by the announcement from Warner "despite the fact that there are various contracts in place between our companies concerning the support of HD DVD."

"Warner Bros.' move to exclusively release in the Blu-ray disc format is a strategic decision focused on the long term and the most direct way to give consumers what they want," said Warner Bros CEO Barry Meyer. "The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger."

Until now, Warner Bros. has been producing both Blu-ray and HD DVD versions of their releases in order "to provide consumer choice, foster mainstream adoption and drive down hardware prices," according to Jeff Bewkes, president and CEO of WB's parent co, Time Warner Inc. But, said WB Home Entertainment president Kevin Tsujihara, the competing formats have confused consumers to the point of indifference, thus preventing mass adoption of hi-def.

However, "consumers have clearly chosen Blu-ray," Tsujihara added, "and we believe that recognizing this preference is the right step in making this great home entertainment experience accessible to the widest possible audience. Warner Bros. has worked very closely with the Toshiba Corporation in promoting high definition media and we have enormous respect for their efforts."

While Universal and Paramount/DreamWorks remain committed to Toshiba's rival HD DVD format, Blu-ray now holds exclusive access to the other 70% of Hollywood studio content, of which Warner owns the largest chunk.

"We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps," Toshiba said in a statement. "We remain firm in our belief that HD DVD is the format best suited to the wants and needs of the consumer."

"I think the war is over. HD DVD has lost. It really is game-over for Toshiba and the other vendors," said Robin Harris, an analyst with Data Mobility Group. "The basic issue is not technology. It's about distribution, it's about marketing, it's about content and Blu-ray has been winning the content war for sometime."

So, what's the advantage of this for consumers? According to Storage Analyst Tom Coughlin, better sales would help consumer electronics manufacturers increase production and that would in turn lead to lower prices.

WHV will continue to release its titles in standard DVD format and Blu-ray, and all new titles will continue to be available in HD DVD until the end of May.

[Thanks to PC World for additional content. WB logo from gizmodo.com. Disc-war image from Ugo.com.]
0 Yes
0 No
Animation World Network