WARNER BROS.' Entertainment announced on Friday that the group was moving to a single HD media format - Sony's Blu-ray.
"Warner Bros.' move to exclusively release in the Blu-ray disc format is a strategic decision focused on the long term and the most direct way to give consumers what they want," said Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, of Warner Bros.'
"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger. 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." Meyer continued, something that most consumers have been pointing out since the HD format wars started.
This came only two days prior to the opening of CES in which a large HD-DVD press event was to be held.
Instead of going ahead, walking with heads held high, HD-DVD executives decided almost immediately to can the press briefing.
The HD-DVD press conference was scheduled for Sunday January 6 at 8:30pm.
"Based on the timing of the Warner Home Video announcement today, we have decided to postpone our CES 2008 press conference," read an e-mail statement sent to press attendees. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
"We are currently discussing the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD-DVD partner companies and evaluating next steps. We believe the consumer continues to benefit from HD-DVD's commitment to quality and affordability - a bar that is critical for the mainstream success of any format."
Toshiba also reflected the general surprise that echoed round the HD-DVD community.
"Toshiba is quite surprised by Warner Bros.' decision to abandon HD DVD in favour of Blu-ray, despite the fact that there are various contracts in place between our companies concerning the support of HD DVD." said a Toshiba statement.
Others were less surprised and merely reflected on how they perceived the format's future. Richard Greenfield, the media analyst with Pali Research, wrote that the announcement marked the end of the format wars. "We expect HD DVD to 'die' a quick death." he said.
Though this doesn't completely signify the death of the HD-DVD format - cheaper hardware and having two studio exclusives (Paramount and Universal) give it hope - it does mean that Blu-ray extends its exclusive studio lead even further.
Also of note is that Warner sister company New Line confirmed it will also shift allegiance to Blu-ray only. Think of big hitting titles such as the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and the upcoming His Dark Materials trilogy, which may affect consumers format choice significantly.
The timing seems to have almost been set to do the most damage to the HD-DVD format, and having to cancel press conferences, coupled with the surprise this decision seems to have had, has left egg on the face of the HD-DVD camp.
The announcement was so badly timed that CES freebies still maintain the HD-DVD logo plastered across their cheap exteriors. µ
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