Jumat, 04 Januari 2008

Warner Bros. picks Blu-ray over HD-DVD (AP)

LOS ANGELES - Warner Bros. Entertainment said Friday it will release movie discs only in the Blu-ray format, becoming the latest studio to reject the rival HD DVD technology and further complicating the high-definition landscape for consumers.

Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner Inc., was the only remaining studio releasing high-definition DVDs in both formats.

It is the fifth studio to back Blu-ray, developed by Sony Corp. Only two support the HD DVD format, developed by Toshiba Corp.

Both formats deliver crisp, clear high-definition pictures and sound. But they are incompatible with each other, and neither plays on older DVD players, which means consumers seeking top-quality playback face a dilemma when selecting a new DVD player.

Warner said it decided to go with Blu-ray because consumers have shown a stronger preference for that format than HD DVD.

The company said sales of Blu-ray discs in the U.S. generated $169 million last year, while sales of discs in the HD DVD format totaled $103 million.

"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," Barry Meyer, Warner Bros.' chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

"We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers and, most importantly, consumers," the statement said.

The studio said it would make the change this year, though Warner Home Video will continue to release new titles in HD DVD until the end of May.

Pali Capital analyst Rich Greenfield said in a Web posting Friday that he expects the HD DVD format to "die a quick death, versus a prolonged format war."

"While we still expect overall consumer spending on DVDs to decline at least 3 percent in 2008, the risk of an even worse 2008 DVD environment has most likely been avoided by Warner's early 2008 decision," Greenfield wrote.

The North American HD DVD Promotional Group Inc., a trade association that promotes the HD DVD format, did not have an immediate comment Friday.

Studios and retailers have been choosing sides in the high-def format war in recent months.

Blu-ray got a big boost in June when Blockbuster Inc. announced it would stock only Blu-ray titles as it expands its high-definition offerings.

Target Inc., the nation's second-largest retailer, decided in July to sell only Blu-ray DVD players.

Among the other major studios that have decided to go with Blu-ray: The Walt Disney Co., Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures, News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Viacom's Paramount Pictures, which also owns DreamWorks SKG, dropped its support for Blu-ray and said it would start distributing films exclusively in the HD DVD format.

Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric, also releases films only in HD DVD.

Time Warner shares slipped 42 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $15.91 Friday.


On the Net:

Time Warner: http://www.timewarner.com/corp/

Blu-ray Disc Association: http://www.blu-raydisc.com/bluray_site.htm

North American HD DVD Promotional Group Inc.: http://www.TheLookAndSoundOfPerfect.com

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