Blu-ray &Hardware Wes Novack on 13 Jan 2007

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?

5 Responses to “Total HD means trouble for HD DVD”

  1. on 15 Jan 2007 at 7:42 PM 1.AnnonaMan said …

    2 different blue laser formats on one disc will be even more expensive. Total HD is going to flop.

  2. on 17 Jan 2007 at 10:21 AM 2.Bricktop said …

    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.

  3. on 17 Jan 2007 at 11:41 AM 3.Wesley Novack said …

    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…

  4. on 13 Apr 2007 at 8:02 AM 4.baccusboy said …

    Adult content will not be the factor it once was, because nearly 70% of adult content’s profits come from downloads, not DVD (or VHS) sales.

  5. on 29 Jun 2007 at 9:10 AM 5.Warners TotalHD format postponed until 2008 » Blu-ray, HD DVD, info at WesleyTech.com said …

    […] Warners TotalHD format postponed until 2008 Warner Brothers, one of two major Hollywood movie studios that supports both Blu-ray and HD DVD, previously announced a Total HD format disc. Total HD is a two-sided disc that contains a Blu-ray Disc on one side and an HD DVD on the flip-side. This hybrid format would allow Warner to stock one high definition disc product at retailers, reducing shelf space requirements and eliminating consumer confusion regarding what high definition format to buy. The format was announced at the Consumer Electronics show at the beginning of 2007, with a market release as early as this summer. VideoBusiness has the details on the delay and received the following statements from Warner VP Steve Knickerson. Nickerson said the studio wants to launch the discs with 10 to 20 titles so retailers can merchandise them together in one section and they don’t get lost at retail. “There is no expiration date on the viability of this concept, so we’re not in a rush to do it,” Nickerson said. “We’ll do it when it makes sense and when it’s right.” The real reason for Total HD’s delay Warner has previously stated that their Total HD discs will not be priced “significantly more” than a standard HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc, but any added cost to an already expensive high definition product can’t be good in my opinion. So what is the real cause of this delay? There are many different possibilities. Warner could be holding out until next year in order to see how each format performs this holiday season before making the jump into manufacturing the more expensive Total HD discs. If both formats hold their ground and both obtain significant marketshare, Warner will most likely go ahead with their Total HD releases in early 2008. If one format becomes significantly more dominant than the other, Warner may scrap the entire Total HD format completely. Either way, we’ll have to wait until 2008 to find out. Share this article: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

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