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HD DVD Death Watch, World Waits for Official Toshiba Statement

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It’s been quite a ride for fans of the dueling movie formats. HD DVD and Blu-ray managed to spark some unique scenarios, including shutting down AVS Forum’s message boards due to their bantering and spawning “buy days” where format specific users purchased loads of discs for no reason other than to see a pie chat move a bit. However, all of this looks to be coming to a close.

This was a rough week or two for the HD DVD camp. First, Netflix sent an e-mail stating that soon enough, they would be dropping the format. In part, the farewell e-mail had this to say: “While we will continue to make our current selection of HD DVD titles available to you for the next several months, we will not be adding additional HD DVD titles or reordering replacements.”

That’s a major strike right there, as if Warner Bros. choosing to go over to the Blu-ray camp wasn’t enough just a week prior. It’s also interesting to note that Netflix’s CFO Barry McCarthy has stated that they would raise their prices for customers renting HD format movies if a clear winner was chosen. Trying to speed that up, Barry?

Following that, Best Buy announced they would be recommending Blu-ray, giving it more shelf space and telling customers it’s the format to go with. Follow that with an announcement by Wal-Mart, telling consumers they would be exclusively stocking Blu-ray in their stores later this year. This is in contrast with their previous stance where the lower cost HD DVD (and low priced players over Christmas) were more in tune with their business model.

With those three video giants choosing a side, the rumors have begun spreading from the ever popular “reliable sources” that Toshiba will be throwing out the white flag within the coming weeks. This is going to cost them millions of dollars, so the announcement won’t come lightly.

Many will point out the Blu-ray capabilities of the PlayStation 3 as the deciding factor, yet statistics showed over half of PlayStation 3 owners didn’t even know it played them. If 60% of users don’t know about the feature, 60% of them aren’t buying or watching the discs. That’s a lot of missed opportunity.

The real reason seems slightly more complex, and it’s hard to pin it on one factor. Studio support is definitely a sticking point. Disney loaded the format with familiar faces, and did an amazing job in making its discs look as good as they could. These are always demo discs in every store.

Advertising was stronger, as every Tuesday release was granted a TV spot alongside the DVD. The spattering of HD DVD ads didn’t do much to boost consumer knowledge. Higher priced discs, including the baffling combo discs who were aimed at approximately no one, were a disadvantage as well for HD DVD. Everyone who got a great deal on a player at $100 were probably stunned when they had to spend $30 on a movie for the thing.

Mistakes were made, but we’re living in a Blu world. If you’ve waited this out, it may be beneficial to hang on for a little longer until Profile 2.0 Blu-ray players hit or else you could be purchasing a gimped player unable to access upcoming online features. If you’re a die-hard for HD DVD, prepare the wallet for the clearance sales.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    It must have been hard for you to write this Matt. I know hoe much you love the HD DVD format. The PS3 is the only future proof BD player out right now, a sad statement if you ask me.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    I’m waiting this out until men in suits storm into my house and break all of my standard DVDs.