Total HD means trouble for HD DVD

[blue laser image]There is a war going on. It is a format war over the next generation of optical discs. In this battle, there are primarily two camps, the HD DVD camp and the Blu-ray camp. The HD DVD camp is named the DVD Forum and is backed by Toshiba, NEC, Microsoft and more. The Blu-ray camp is called the Blu-ray Disc Association, and is backed by Sony, Pioneer, Philips and more.

Both sides want to win the hearts and (more importantly) the dollars of consumers. Both sides are using agressive strategies and are attempting to take the lead into the market. The problem is that at this point, there is no clear winner. Both of the primary blue laser disc formats being promoted by their respective camps have their strengths and weaknesses. Both formats have seen problem with early production issues and DRM technologies.

But in this war, content is king. The news of movie studio alliances has been very important in this next generation format war. Some studios have allied with one camp, only to jump ship to another side months later. Many analysts, journalists and opinionists have been quick to proclaim a blue laser format winner after learning of some content exclusivity news or of a certain movie studios newly claimed alliance. After all, if one of the formats had exclusive rights to most of the movie studio content, why would anyone want to invest in the competing format that only has limited movie selections available?

But wait a minute… There has been a major disruption in the “exclusivity” arena of the next generation format battle. Warner Brothers has recently announced a hybrid format optical disc titled “Total HD”. This disc combines a Blu-ray Disc and a HD DVD on one piece of media. This means that “exclusive” content providers are now jumping ship and opting to release on Total HD, providing content that is playable on HD DVD players or Blu-ray players. For example, the studio New Line cinema recently announced support for Total HD. This leaves HD DVD with only one exclusive movie studio, Universal. But wait, there are other types of exclusive content such as…

Adult content! Recent reports indicate that adult content will only be produced on the HD DVD format and NOT on Blu-ray. Rumors are that Sony has threatened Blu-ray Disc production facilities, warning them not to produce any adult content in the Blu-ray Disc format. So what is the significance of this? Adult content was a major force in the past format war between BetaMax and VHS. In that battle, VHS turned out the winner, largely due to the adult industry’s support for the format.

So HD DVD now has the support of the adult content industry and Blu-ray does not. Will this be enough for HD DVD to succeed? Should we call HD DVD the “Universal Adult” exclusive content provider? We’ll see… with Universal now standing as the lone studio not offering content on Blu-ray Disc, it would be understandable for them to crack their stance and offer support for the “Total HD” format in the future. What do you think?

About Wes Novack

Wesley Novack is a Technologist working in the software industry, with extensive experience building and managing highly available applications, services, and systems in the public cloud. He has a breadth of experience in online publishing, the consumer electronics industry, and building internet communities. Wes enjoys hanging with his family, skateboarding, hiking, the vegan lifestyle, and a good cup of tea. You can find him on Twitter @WesleyTech.

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5 Comments on “Total HD means trouble for HD DVD”

  1. It’s only a matter of time before Universal supports Blu-ray – as the sales of Blu-ray discs have been higher than those of HD DVD since December, Universal will not want to miss out on those dollars for much longer.
    Blu-ray is the inevitable winner in the high definition disc format war.

  2. Hi AnnonaMan and Bricktop. I agree that Universal definitely must have pressure building on them to release in “Total HD” since it is the ONLY studio that currently has no support for Blu-ray. I wouldn’t yet agree with your high def format winner declaration quite so soon though…

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