Warner Bros. decision to drop HD-DVD support could spell the end for format

Warner Bros. Entertainment, which currently releases movies on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray format discs, said last Friday it would drop its support for HD-DVD titles in May.

In announcing its decision, the company said consumer “confusion and indifference” was translating into marketplace inertia that was preventing mass-market adoption of an HD disc format. Additionally, Kevin Tsujihara, president of the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, said consumers “have clearly chosen Blu-ray.”

A consumer survey released in December from The Diffusion Group revealed, however, that among those interested in buying a high-def DVD player, 43 percent expressed a preference for HD-DVD compared to 20 percent who chose Blu-ray. Thirty percent were undecided.

The HD DVD Promotional Group issued a statement late Friday calling the decision “a setback for HD-DVD.” But Michael Greeson, president and principal analyst for The Diffusion Group, forecasts that the move will have a more dire impact. “With Warner going Blu-ray only, Paramount and Dreamworks will likely follow suit, leaving Universal as the only major studio supporting HD-DVD. HD-DVD’s lifetime as an HD movie fromat is now numbered in days, weeks at the most,” he said.

Greeson added that the timing of the Warner Bros. announcement is unfortunate for consumers. "It's disappointing that Warner chose to wait until after the Christmas shopping season to make the announcement. They should have declared their allegiance before shoppers spent money on HD-DVD players and discs. That wasn't going to happen, of course, because they wanted to clear their inventory of HD-DVD titles.”