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Disney's Iger says winner is needed in HD format war

Robert Iger, CEO of Walt Disney, last week said the high-definition DVD business is not going to take off until there's a clear winner in the optical disc format war.

The Blu-ray format, whose lead backer is Sony, and HD-DVD, financed by a Toshiba-led consortium, are technically incompatible. Both camps have refused to compromise. Neither format has taken off in the marketplace, and sales of HD home video programming remains stagnant.

Speaking last week at the 2007 Bear Stearns Media Conference in Palm Beach, FL, Iger, whose company is a Blu-ray supporter, predicted that HD discs would take over traditional SD DVDs once a winner emerges, Video Business reported.

However, Iger refused to predict when the format war might end or that Blu-ray — presumably his preferred format — would emerge on top. HDTV set sales, he said, are key to driving sales of the new formats.

In the meantime, Iger said the video download market is "relatively modest" and is currently no threat to the traditional DVD business. He estimated that Disney has sold more than 2 million movie downloads through Apple's iTunes since last October.

Iger told the conference he's confident the DVD business is going to continue to be successful, stating that Disney sold 130 million DVDs last quarter.