Warner Home Video drops HD DVD support, backs Blu-ray exclusively

  • Hollywood (CA) - In a major blow to HD DVD, Warner announced tonight that it will now only release high-def movie on Blu-ray Disc.  The HD DVD camp has canceled its CES press event and all one-on-one press meetings as a result.

    In the last weekday before the biggest technology, trade show in the world, Warner has confirmed that it is dropping support for the HD DVD format, effective immediately.  This will likely be one of the biggest news items taken away from this year's CES, which doesn't officially begin until Monday.

    "Consolidating into one format is something that we felt was necessary for the health of the industry.  The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," said Warner Bros CEO Barry Meyer in an interview, quotes the New York Times.

    Warner had been the only major studio still supporting both formats.  Paramount was also originally format-agnostic but chose to back HD DVD, thanks to a reported $150 million in incentives paid by format backer Toshiba.  Warner was also reportedly offered monetary incentives to continue to support HD DVD but declined.  Many observers had speculated that Warner would go exclusively to Blu-ray in an announcement during CES.

    The timing couldn't be worse.  HD DVD was planning an even bigger showing for next week's Consumer Electronic Show.  Now it will be mainly an attempt for the group to do damage control.

    "Based on the timing of the Warner Home Video announcement today, the HD DVD Promotional Group has decided to cancel 1:1 press meetings at CES, in addition to the press conference that was scheduled for Sunday evening. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause," said a spokesperson for HD DVD in an e-mail to all affected media outlets including TG Daily.

    The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is holding a press conference next Tuesday and likely will use the Warner announcement as a major talking point.  Ironically, at last year's CES there was no official BDA press event but there was one for HD DVD.  The tables have now been turned.

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