Netflix Reluctantly Drops HD DVD Rentals

After a couple of weeks of relative quiet on the next-gen disc war front, things are starting to break this week—in favor of Blu-ray Disc. After steadfastly remaining format-agnostic while other parties began to pick sides, America’s largest online DVD rental company, Netflix, confirmed this week it would begin to stock only Blu-ray Disc titles for its 7 million-plus subscribers.

Netflix said Feb. 11 that with recent events (such as Warner Bros. last month deciding to drop HD DVD titles by the spring) leading to a clear majority of Hollywood studios going solely with Blu-ray, it was time to acknowledge that the Sony-backed format will evolve into the preferred HD disc standard since, among other things, Blu-ray content providers will be issuing far more titles in the foreseeable future.

Even while Netflix continued to provide movie titles in both formats since 2006, the disc mail-out firm has mentioned from time to time that it handled far more Blu-ray rentals than HD DVD transactions. Although it gave no specific cut-off date, Netflix indicated it plans to slowly phase out HD DVD titles through 2008.

On Feb. 12, the HD DVD Promotion Group issued this statement in response: “We have long held the belief that HD DVD is the best format for consumers based on quality and value, and with more than 1 million HD DVD players on the market, it’s unfortunate to see Netflix make the decision to only stock Blu-ray titles going forward.”