Personally, i think it is fairly safe to call it. At ‘worst’ we might end up with a truce and both formats will survive in some capacity, but i don’t think it’ll even come to that. Sony finally beat the Betamax (and mini-disc, ATRAC, memory sticks, Super Audio, and UMD among many others…) curse and won a format war.
Blu-Ray is here to stay.
Blu-Ray had a huge boost in market share after Christmas, and still routinely controls 60%-plus of the high-def movie market week after week. Since the inception of both formats, Blu-Ray controls 64% of the market, and has controlled all 10 spots on the Nielsen VideoScan list of top titles every week since Christmas. It is also worth noting that many HD-DVD movies come bundled with the standard DVD as well, so the HD-DVD numbers may be given a boost by customers buying those copies for the standard DVD’s, not the high-def format.
I even did a little research for ya. Here are a few interesting fact nuggets that lead me to believe in HD-DVD demise:
- Blockbuster has decided to go Blu-Ray exclusive in over 1,700 stores.
- You can get a Blu-Ray drive for your PC for under $200 now.
- Sony just announced a smaller and cheaper Blu-Ray laser system. Cheaper and smaller players should follow.
- Sonic (makers of MyDVD personal DVD making software) are halting production of Scenarist for HD-DVD. This is the professional-level application used to author (make menus, features, etc) many hollywood retail discs.
- Microsoft VP of global marketing recently said that the XBox 360, which has an optional HD-DVD add-on, may one day have a Blu-Ray add-on instead/as well.
- A german retail recently began offering a rebate/discount on the purchase of Blu-Ray players for people that exchanged (brought back) “old” HD-DVD players.
- Many retailers are shifting shelf space away from HD-DVD and toward Blu-Ray, making HD-DVD’s available “for special order”. Ouch.
- Woolworth’s is making HD-DVD online only. Blu-Ray exclusive in stores.
- Warner Brothers elected to cease HD-DVD exclusivity, and is switching to Blu-Ray, and is taking New Line Studios (read: Lord of the Rings) with it. Many (including the New York Times) feel this is the death knell for HD-DVD.
- The only studio to switch from Blu-Ray to HD-DVD was Paramount Pictures (along with Dreamworks) back in August of ’07. This switch prompted director Michael Bay to say that he wouldn’t make Transformers 2 if Paramount didn’t release it on Blu-Ray. Of course he later backed-off, but still…
Getting a handle on which studios are lined up fully in which camp would be tough, especially given the distribution rights for different territories, etc. However, I think one of the more important aspects of a format war is the ever-important Killer App.
Killer Apps for a movie format would of course, be movies. So, let’s make a short list of movies or series with a major cult following that might compel someone to purchase a player for either format (in no particular order):
Star Trek (movies and TV shows)
Battlestar Gallactica (TV show)
Heros (TV show)
Pixar Movies (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, etc)
Stargate (movie and TV shows)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Lost (TV show)
James Bond (many not yet released)
Disney Animated Features (many not yet released)
Lord of the Rings (not yet released)
The Matrix Trilogy
So…spot anything you can’t live without?
One of the other early deciding factors has been who is buying these players. It would be all well and good if all ABC sitcoms from the 1990′s were released on one format or another, but if those people don’t drive early adopter sales, then it won’t matter.
Which brings us to another point: HD-DVD has been pushing massive price cuts for players and media. However, mass-consumer demand is still for normal DVDs. The only customers buying high-def format movies are early adopters and videophiles. Not the types that generally react well to red-tag sales and feature stripped players for low prices.
As of Jan 28th, there were 381 HD-DVD titles compared to 459 Blu-Ray titles available. Blu-Ray also adds more each week on average, and they tend to be more popular and “a-list” titles. Here’s the “new release” list for the month of January as an example:
- Shoot ‘Em Up (New Line)
- War (Lionsgate)
- Resident Evil (Sony)
- Resident Evil Trilogy (Sony)
- Resident Evil: Extinction (Sony)
- 3:10 to Yuma (2007) (Lionsgate)
- Con Air (Buena Vista)
- Dragon Wars (Sony)
- Killing Machine/Shogun’s Ninja (BCI)
- Man on Fire (Fox)
- Night of the Werewolf/Vengeance of the Zombies (BCI)
- The Rock (Buena Vista)
- Sister Street Fighter/Sister Street Fighter 2 (BCI)
- Sunshine (Fox)
- Breaker Morant (Image)
- Good Luck Chuck (Lionsgate)
- Mr. Woodcock (New Line)
- Suburban Girl (Image)
- Went To Coney Island On A Mission From God…(Starz)
- The Game Plan (Walt Disney)
- Saw IV (Lionsgate)
- Daddy Day Camp (Sony)
- Damages: The Complete First Season (Sony)
- The Invasion (Warner)
- Justin Timberlake: Live at Madison Square Garden (Sony BMG)
- Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Sony)
- Mobsters (Universal)
- The Pianist (Universal)
- White Noise (Universal)
- White Noise 2: The Light (Universal)
- Zodiac: Director’s Cut (Paramount)
- The Ten (City Lights)
- Channels (Vanguard Cinema)
- Method Man: Live from the Sunset Strip (Music Distribution)
- Strauss: Die Fledermaus (Opus Arte)
- Dispatch: Zimbabwe – Live at Madison Square Garden (WMG)
- King of California (First Look)
So. I’ve got my PS3 and am firmly in the Blu-Ray camp now. Pixar was my killer app, but Stargate, the 5th Element, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter sure didn’t hurt. Cars alone is worth the investment for me. If you haven’t seen it in HD yet, let me know and i’ll arrange a time for you to come over and watch it. It will blow. your. mind. Just make sure you put in a fresh set of contacts or clean your glasses well before you come over.