Netflix Sides With Blu-ray In HD Format War
In yet another coup for the burgeoning high-definition DVD format, online DVD rental service Netflix Monday said it will stock high-def movies exclusively in Blu-ray.
For Netflix, that means no more discs in HD DVD, the format spearheaded by Toshiba. Netflix has been stocking high-def movies in both formats since early 2006, but said in a statement that all of its new high-def movie purchases will be Blu-ray and that it will phase out HD DVD discs by the end of the year.
Netflix made its choice after watching several major studios side with Sony-backed Blu-ray. Warner Bros. Entertainment in January said it will put out high-def movies exclusively in Blu-ray, joining Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Walt Disney in the Blu-ray camp. Two major studios, Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios, have sided with HD DVD.
The rental service said that only a portion of its subscribers choose to receive high-def movies. To put it in perspective, Netflix says its library includes more than 90,000 DVD titles, with only 400 of those in Blu-ray.
But that's hardly the point. The main reason for Netflix's decision seems to be its desire to get this format war over quickly so that people will start buying high-def gear. After all, what retailer (or DVD renter) wants to have to stock two HD versions and a standard-def version of every movie title?
"The prolonged period of competition between two formats has prevented clear communication to the consumer regarding the richness of the high-def experience versus standard definition," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix, in the statement. "We're now at the point where the industry can pursue the migration to a single format, bring clarity to the consumer and accelerate the adoption of high-def."
Some have already called this fight in Blu-ray's favor. One thing's for sure, it's come out swinging in 2008.