Ah Yes, a $2.7 Million Super Bowl Ad Will Fix Everything …

Published on January 29, 2008
by John Paczkowski

homer.jpgWoolworths has declared a winner in the next generation DVD format war and it’s not HD DVD. Yesterday, the British chain said it will stock only Blu-ray discs, becoming the first major retailer to drop HD DVD.

Woolworths’ decision came after it found Blu-ray movies outsold HD DVD by 10 to 1 in its 820 stores. “Sales figures clearly show that the market is moving toward one format of high-definition DVD,” said Woolworths’ DVD buyer Steven McGunigel. “The main reason is the success of Sony’s PlayStation 3 machine. Because it plays Blu-ray discs, there are over three-quarters of a million homes in the U.K. that can view the new high-definition format. There is no where near that number of HD DVD players around.”

Another nasty blow for the HD DVD, which appears to be fast losing the support of its initial backers. Last week, Warner Bros., New Line and HBO all abandoned HD DVD. And according to Variety, Universal’s exclusive commitment to HD DVD has expired. Toshiba, HD DVD’s, main backer, is soldiering on in spite of such setbacks. It’s even gone and purchased a 30-second TV spot during next week’s Super Bowl. But as Andy Parsons, senior vice president of the Blu-ray Disc Association points out, it’s no silver bullet. “I certainly admire [Toshiba’s] chutzpah,” Parsons told Home Media Magazine. “They can certainly choose to do as they please with their marketing. Running a Super Bowl ad is not likely to convince consumers that HD DVD will win the format war.”

And in the end, is this particular format war even worth worrying about? Isn’t physical media doomed? “People are saying Blu-ray won the war but who cares,” Seagate CEO Bill Watkins said earlier this year. “The war is over physical distribution versus electrical distribution, and Blu-ray and HD lost that. In this, flash memory and hard drives are on the same side. The war is over and the physical guys lost.”

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