Signaling the presumptive end to the HD format war, Warner Bros. Ent. announced at CES that it will release its high-definition DVD titles exclusively in Sony Corp.'s Blu-ray disc format beginning later this year in response to consumer demand.
Warner Bros. owns the largest studio of catalog titles in the industry (encompassing Warner Bros., pre-1986 MGM, RKO and others) and represents 18-20% of DVD sales domestically, according to REUTERS. Now Blu-ray holds about 70% exclusive access to Hollywood studio content. Now only Universal and Paramount/DreamWorks are the sole holdouts with Toshiba Corp's rival HD DVD format.
"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, 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."
Warner Home Video will continue to release its titles in standard DVD format and Blu-ray. After a short window following their standard DVD and Blu-ray releases, all new titles will continue to be released in HD DVD until the end of May.
"Warner Bros. has produced in both high-definition formats in an effort to provide consumer choice, foster mainstream adoption and drive down hardware prices," said Jeff Bewkes, president and CEO, Time Warner Inc., the parent company of Warner Bros. Ent. "Today's decision by Warner Bros. to distribute in a single format comes at the right time and is the best decision both for consumers and Time Warner."
"A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high-definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue stream that it can be for the industry," said Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Ent. Group. "Consumers have clearly chosen Blu-ray, and we believe that recognizing this preference is the right step in making this great home entertainment experience accessible to the widest possible audience. Warner Bros. has worked very closely with the Toshiba Corporation in promoting high definition media and we have enormous respect for their efforts. We look forward to working with them on other projects in the future."