A major blow was dealt to HD DVD when the last remaining major Hollywood studio to definitely pick a preferred format, Warner Bros., chose to back the Blu-ray contingency and release all future home video projects on Blu-ray only starting in May 2008. This announcement all but halted any momentum that HD DVD was making in hardware sales due to the significant lower sales price compared to Blu-ray players. In some cases the price difference between a HD DVD player compared to a Blu-ray player was as much as $200 ~ $300.
An excerpt from an article in the Hollywood Reporter, titled Warner’s HD DVD shift may hurt sales, By Thomas K. Arnold on January 24, 2008 shows:
â€œAccording to raw retail data collected by NPD, consumers bought just 1,758 HD DVD players the week of Jan. 12, down from 14,558 players the week before. In contrast, consumers bought 21,770 Blu-ray Disc machines, up from 15,257 the previous week.
NPD would not confirm nor deny the actual sales figures, saying they are proprietary. (A copy of the report was provided to The Hollywood Reporter by a third-party source.)â€
Even though individual week sales does not create a long term trend, itâ€™s safe to say that content will be a larger driving force compared to hardware pricing. Even though HD DVD plans another aggressive price drop shortly on the players, if the content doesnâ€™t exist, consumers are not likely to want them. At this time, the Blu-ray camp includes Warner, Fox, Sony, Disney, & Lionsgate which together account for approx. 68% of all home video sales while the HD DVD camp is comprised of Paramount & Dreamworks accounts for approx. 22% of all home video sales, based on estimates from Jan. 1, 2007 through Sept. 30, 2007. The remaining 10% is made of various independent studios. This deficit is far too wide to overcome based solely on hardware pricing. The consumer is smart enough to realize that if they canâ€™t find titles for their HD DVD player, it would be a bad investment.
Considering how much has been spent by both the HD DVD and Blu-ray contingencies thus far, I donâ€™t see HD DVD giving up just yet. However, it would be a major coup if they are able to recover at this stage to overcome such a significant deficit. To put this in the concept of baseball, itâ€™s the bottom of the ninth and the home team is down by 20 runs with 2 outs. Can they rally and come back to win, sure itâ€™s possible, but is it feasible, I think not too likely.