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Paramount Will Support Both DVD Formats

In an announcement this week that could lead to even further confusion in the ongoing DVD format wars, Paramount Home Entertainment said it will support the Sony Blu-ray DVD disc format for HD. At the same time, Paramount pledged to continue to support the rival and incompatible HD DVD platform from Toshiba. The studio is the first major party to end its sole commitment to one format by supporting both. Yet is support for both, really support for neither?

Some Hollywood pubs such as Variety--which called the Paramount decision "stunning"--see the announcement as virtually tilting the pendulum heavily towards Blu-ray. They also see Paramount's vow to also stick with HD DVD as a temporary face-saving strategy, and that ultimately all studios will shift over to Blu-ray. HD DVD proponents call that type of logic a head-scratcher.

According to published reports, the Blu-ray side represents studios that produce nearly 60 percent of the current home video market, while HD DVD accounts for about 45 percent. (It totals more than 100 percent because of some dual-format support, like Paramount's.) Now with the Paramount announcement, at least three distinct groups have formed: those that support only HD DVD; those that support only Blu-ray; and those that support both.

Toshiba, for its part, in an Oct. 3 statement released after the Paramount announcement, said: "We see Paramount's continued commitment to releasing HD DVD titles as proof that the studio still recognizes HD DVD's advantages: accelerated time to market, greater proven capacity, lower expected price, and enhanced consumer features. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the studio in this important product area."