Harry Potter Sales Could Alter Next-Gen DVD War

December 12, 2007
There’s growing speculation amid HD blogs and Web sites that Warner Bros., a major studio that continues releasing its many titles in both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats, will keep a very close eye on the sales of the new Harry Potter title, which was released in both next-gen formats (as well as standard DVD) on Dec. 11. Perhaps fueling the speculation is that Warner does not seem to be trying to curb the reports.

If Blu-ray sales overwhelm HD DVD numbers, Warner could use this year-ending, side-by-side comparison to make the leap to one format, which in turn, could prove to be a severe, perhaps fatal, blow to the HD DVD side. Yet if Warner decides to side with HD DVD and chief proponent Toshiba, that would be another feather in HD DVD’s cap after a summer of unexpected good news and some positive holiday sales numbers right now (see next story). Such an unanticipated move by Warner also would likely guarantee a prolonged disc war at least through 2008.

Warner, meanwhile, has been meeting with both sides, especially since the summer. Howard Stringer, the top exec at Blu-ray chief proponent Sony, had recently called the disc wars pretty much a “stalemate,” only to say later that he meant that Blu-ray was actually winning (HD Notebook, Nov. 14, 2007).

But Stringer has also been making personal appeals to the top executives at Time Warner (Warner’s parent company), according to BusinessWeek.

Still, sales in both next-gen disc formats continue to represent a very small percentage of overall sales when compared to standard DVD—a fact of life punctuated by some standard-DVD sales that may not be much altered in the ongoing holiday season: Some big-box stores such as Costco are selling brand-name standard DVD progressive-scan players for under $40.

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