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Netflix to cease carrying new HD DVD titles

The tide continues to turn in the ongoing high-definition format war. Netflix, the first choice in online movie rental service in the U.S., today announced that it will exclusively stock Blu-ray Disc as the only choice for its customers looking for high-definition content.

Earlier this year, Warner Bros. shook the industry when it announced that it would release movies exclusively on Blu-ray Disc starting this summer. Netflix states that, with four major Hollywood studios now behind Blu-ray Disc, it too will back the format held by the majority.

Since the inception of HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, Netflix gave its customers opportunity to rent from both formats. But by the end of this year, the online rental service will have phased out HD DVD, leaving Blu-ray Disc as the lone option.

HD DVD hardware owners will have to look to alternative rental outlets for software, as Blockbuster announced last summer that its retail stores would also carry only Blu-ray Disc. Blockbuster’s Total Access online rental service, however, continues to provide HD DVD as an option.

"The prolonged period of competition between two formats has prevented clear communication to the consumer regarding the richness of the high-def experience versus standard definition," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. "We're now at the point where the industry can pursue the migration to a single format, bring clarity to the consumer and accelerate the adoption of high-def. Going forward, we expect that all of the studios will publish in the Blu-ray format and that the price points of high-def DVD players will come down significantly. These factors could well lead to another decade of disc-based movie watching as the consumer's preferred means."

Only a small percentage of Netflix’s seven million subscribers elected to rent high-definition movies, and the company says that most of its customers have chosen Blu-ray Disc over HD DVD.

"From the Netflix perspective, focusing on one format will enable us to create the best experience for subscribers who want high-definition to be an important part of how they enjoy our service," Added Sarandos.

As part of the transition to Blu-ray Disc, the Netflix said it will acquire no new HD DVDs but that its existing inventory would continue to rent until the discs' natural life cycle (through loss or damage) takes them out of circulation in the coming months.

Although Blu-ray Disc may have more support, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Entertainment are still exclusive to HD DVD. This means that Netflix customers will be without a high-definition option for upcoming releases such as Beowulf, Bee Movie, Sweeney Todd, The Jack Ryan Collection, American Gangster, Braveheart, Forrest Gump, Star Trek and potentially even Indiana Jones.



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another blow.....
By Moishe on 2/11/2008 11:20:09 AM , Rating: 3
Maybe we can finally get this mess over with?

Even though I have an HD-DVD player, I would love it if this crap were settled once and for all. I really don't mind having two formats. I do mind being a Netflix customer and not having as many HD options.

In my mind Netflix and Blockbuster shouldn't have chosen a side. I'm not sure how much money this saves them, but this move is certainly not a consumer driven move because it removes consumer choice.




RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/11/2008 11:30:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I do mind being a Netflix customer and not having as many HD options.

I'm sure many people feel the same way.

quote:
In my mind Netflix and Blockbuster shouldn't have chosen a side. I'm not sure how much money this saves them, but this move is certainly not a consumer driven move because it removes consumer choice.

For Block Buster it would make sense at the Brick & Mortar stores since your all about shelf space. For online rentals it makes little sense since your stocking in warehouses. Netflix made an odd choice here. Certain HD movies come in one format or the other. By choosing one over the other on the Rental side makes no sense at all. Rental movies are sunk cost and as long as they continue to be rented they are a continued source of revenue. Biggest problem with both formats is many titles are available on one or the other, not both. Until Paramount and Universal decide to switch to Blu-Ray this will only continue. I don't see the wisdom in this move given Netflix business model.


RE: another blow.....
By AlphaVirus on 2/11/2008 11:47:07 AM , Rating: 2
But you have to remember they said they will continue to have HDDVD as an option until the end of 2008. That gives them plenty of time in case anything changes in the war.

If BluRay wins then they do nothing because they have already chosen that side.
If HDDVD wins then they have an entire year to switch over.

Netflix knows what it is doing and I think they know a little more since they are probably discussing this stuff with several publishers.


RE: another blow.....
By ATC on 2/11/2008 3:06:21 PM , Rating: 2
If you read their statement carefully they will likely not have any HD-DVDs for long, let alone till the end of the year. They will have them until their inventory is depleted through disk life cycle, fire sales, write offs etc... they essentially may end up completing this phase by year end but chances are it will be much sooner.

It is anticipated that they will sell most of their previously viewed HD-DVD stock pretty soon, so for those still wanting to build on their HD-DVD collection should keep an eye out for some pretty good sales there.


RE: another blow.....
By docinct on 2/12/2008 3:22:52 PM , Rating: 2
The end is coming by the end of the year based on this e-mail I received:

We're Going Blu-ray

Dear xxxxx,

You're receiving this email because you have asked to receive high-definition movies in the HD DVD format. As you may have heard, most of the major movie studios have recently decided to release their high-definition movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. In order to provide the best selection of high-definition titles for our members, we have decided to go exclusively with Blu-ray as well.

While we will continue to make our current selection of HD DVD titles available to you for the next several months, we will not be adding additional HD DVD titles or reordering replacements.

Toward the end of February, HD DVDs in your Saved Queue will automatically be changed to standard definition DVDs. Then toward the end of this year, all HD DVDs in your Queue will be changed to standard definition DVDs. Don't worry, we will contact you before this happens.


RE: another blow.....
By nemrod on 2/11/2008 11:52:43 AM , Rating: 2
You see only short term. But it 's easer to handle only one format. HD-DVD will die and you will find all the films on bluray. Read the arguments :

quote:
"The prolonged period of competition between two formats has prevented clear communication to the consumer regarding the richness of the high-def experience versus standard definition," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. "We're now at the point where the industry can pursue the migration to a single format, bring clarity to the consumer and accelerate the adoption of high-def. Going forward, we expect that all of the studios will publish in the Blu-ray format and that the price points of high-def DVD players will come down significantly. These factors could well lead to another decade of disc-based movie watching as the consumer's preferred means."


RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/11/2008 11:55:23 AM , Rating: 3
That's marketing PR for we are trying to strong arm Universal and Paramount into switching to Blu-Ray but if they don't we will back down.

If consumers demand HD DVD titles into 2009 because Universal and Paramount are still HD DVD exclusive, then Netflix will have to stock it.


RE: another blow.....
By nemrod on 2/11/2008 12:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
In many minds hd-dvd is dead. And this netflix position is again a new "proof". When most consumers will have bluray player and not hd-dvd, you believe Universal and paramount will still choose to sell for only 10% of the market?


RE: another blow.....
By Chaser on 2/11/2008 12:12:58 PM , Rating: 2
Universal and Paramount like many other businesses, have shareholders to consider. Supporting a comatose if not dead format doesn't make very good business sense. It costs money and resources. This isn't about "strong arming" anyone.

Consumers started choosing BR over HD DVD months ago when Block Buster went BR exclusive. One format is BEST for consumers that will begin to consider their High Def purchase options in the future days to come.

Thankfully in this case history won't be repeating itself as most everyone learned from the beta vs VHS "war" that adverting one is best for everyone. It's good to see this over finally.


RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/11/08, Rating: -1
RE: another blow.....
By nemrod on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/11/2008 1:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And you believe over-price hybrid players have any chance?

The point is that the BR2.0 spec and the HD-DVD spec (hasn't ever changed) are extremely close. All you really need is a way to make the laser a variable wavelength depending on the disk inserted. Or take the draconian approach and include 2 lasers. There is no hardware reason for hybrid players to be so expensive.

quote:
Ok, you have bought a cheap hd-dvd player and you're not happy with the news. But for consumer it's better only one format stay (hd-dvd or bluray, it doesn't matter, even if now, the game is played)

I'm not arguing a point about format. My investment in either is minimal and switching won't cause me any pain (hell I shelled out more for my latest graphics card than it would cost to purchase a HD player in either format and a few movies). The problem is that the high def market overall is in the same boat here. Blu-Ray has the studio support, no argument there. They need to do 2 things now to seal the deal (walmart not necessary).

-Cheaper BR players, $350 is a tough pill to swallow given the current state of the economy.
-Stand alone players that adhere to the BR2.0 spec, I haven't found any yet :(


RE: another blow.....
By MrPickins on 2/11/2008 5:45:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
All you really need is a way to make the laser a variable wavelength depending on the disk inserted. Or take the draconian approach and include 2 lasers.


And there is your added cost right there.

Oh, and you neglect to mention that it'll have double the licensing fees. How does this help consumers again?


RE: another blow.....
By BansheeX on 2/12/2008 10:43:08 AM , Rating: 2
It doesn't. Kenobi is a fervid HD-DVD supporter and has spent the last few weeks trying to tell people to go purple to save himself the cost of getting a new player. I don't think he realizes how dual format will confuse the crapnuts out of the average consumer and make HD movies the perma-niche lifelong bitch of DVD.


RE: another blow.....
By Chaser on 2/11/2008 1:02:15 PM , Rating: 2
In case you didn't notice, everyone that matters is abandoning the fastly sinking HD DVD ship. Hybrid players are expensive -once an important factor trumpeted by the HD DVD faithful I believe?

I agree that adoption rates with any high Def movie media is in it's infancy. But 2 years from now consumers won't care about that other format that flopped in its first year nor will manufacturers will waste the money to produce the players.


RE: another blow.....
By sweetsauce on 2/11/2008 12:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
This is the first month in a long time that quality HD-DVD movies are coming out. We'll finally be able to see if the format is really dying, or if it was a case of nothing being available previously to warrant a purchase. Common sense tells me it was lack of content.


RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/11/2008 12:56:26 PM , Rating: 2
Probably. DVD sales have been lacking as of late as well.


RE: another blow.....
By 777 on 2/11/2008 2:08:09 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you for pointing out the obvious, consumers are not benefiting from two formats. They will benefit when everyone is competing for the best exp and lowest price in one format, I don't get why this is so hard to understand. Everyone I know and customer I deal hasn't been willing to commit to a format because they don't want to waste time and money on a format that isn't being supported by the majority of the studios and there is no product to watch.

I said this before the companies see people choosing Blu-ray and they want to make money, that's why more and more companies are now choosing Blu-ray, nobody is getting strong armed. Hopefully we can finally move on and see the Hi-def format be good for the market until downloaded is perfected.


RE: another blow.....
By omnicronx on 2/11/2008 1:30:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For online rentals it makes little sense since your stocking in warehouses.
Wouldn't they have to pay a different license fee? One for the DVD, one for the BD and one for the HD-DVD? Or am I totally off base here...


RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/11/2008 1:43:37 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Wouldn't they have to pay a different license fee? One for the DVD, one for the BD and one for the HD-DVD? Or am I totally off base here...

They shouldn't. They buy a "rentable" copy of the movie for whatever price the studio commands and that's that. License fee's would be more for the Studio printing the movie or the manufacturing line doing the printing. I can't think of any format specific fees that might apply to Netflix in this case.

Gonna go with totally off base.


RE: another blow.....
By RamarC on 2/11/2008 5:35:00 PM , Rating: 2
that's the nail in the hd-dvd coffin. but i do agree that consumers should have made the choice, not content providers. the providers should have been able to figure this out a long time ago.


RE: another blow.....
By TheDoc9 on 2/11/2008 8:15:54 PM , Rating: 2
I don't mind the delay, I've still got those 5 free hd-dvd's in limbo. Not willing to accept yet that I'm getting screwed out of them.


RE: another blow.....
By EODetroit on 2/12/2008 9:51:31 AM , Rating: 1
They got paid.


RE: another blow.....
By kattanna on 2/11/2008 11:34:29 AM , Rating: 2
agreed. Netflix should not be taking sides. and honestly i can't see why they felt the need to make an announcement like this either.

there are so few high def disks out compared to standard DVD's I find it hard to believe its a real cost cutting measure.

I wonder if they were offered something to do this.


RE: another blow.....
By AlphaVirus on 2/11/2008 11:56:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
there are so few high def disks out compared to standard DVD's I find it hard to believe its a real cost cutting measure.

With Netflix going BluRay exclusive, they can now push more advertising at the customers without any confusion.

If they show a commercial with both BluRay and HDDVD most people wont bother with it because they dont know which one is better or more cost effective. If you are only showing "Now in BluRay and DVD format" then they will think regular DVD or High Def. Blu Ray.


RE: another blow.....
By 777 on 2/11/2008 2:12:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
With Netflix going BluRay exclusive, they can now push more advertising at the customers without any confusion.


Again thank you for pointing out the obvious, it really is this simple!


RE: another blow.....
By geddarkstorm on 2/11/2008 12:08:52 PM , Rating: 3
It makes perfect business sense. Netflix said that the blu-ray are selling better, so to move their entire inventory to that format, instead of buying both (including the redundancy of buying the same movie in both formats) allows them to make more profit. That is, after all, what a business is really after.

Finally, notice the end of his quote "...These factors could well lead to another decade of disc-based movie watching as the consumer's preferred means." Notice that "disc-based" bit? Netflix is competing against downloadable content, so it is also in their best interest to really trumpet discs in general, and reducing confusion and redundancy are important factors in that.


RE: another blow.....
By geddarkstorm on 2/11/2008 12:14:09 PM , Rating: 3
There's a difference between choice and needless redundancy/complexity. Do we really need two or more formats that are basically identical but which split studios into exclusive categories, thus making it impossible to view all movies on any one format? That really makes the consumer lose, as then the consumer has to either buy two players, or a highly expensive dual player. And for what? Moving to one format, as with DVD and VHS in the past, is the only sensible thing to do, and has to happen eventually.


RE: another blow.....
By sweetsauce on 2/11/2008 1:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
You're right that we don't need 2 different formats, but we have 2. If you believe the hype then yes blu won the "format war". I argue that there was never a war since the 2 formats never competed on equal ground. My question to you is this: do you really think killing off the cheaper alternative in this supposed war is best for the consumer, or is killing off the more expensive one the best thing? Is it better to kill off the complete format or the one that still hasn't reached maturity? Is it better to support toshiba or sony? Is it better to put butter or jam on your toast? All these questions must be answered honestly without any fanboyism. I'll let you in on a little secret, the studios couldn't care less whats best for the consumer.

P.S. PS3/xbox360 needless redundancy?


RE: another blow.....
By Chaser on 2/11/2008 1:21:34 PM , Rating: 1
Despite how you re-package all these old tiring worn out denial spin attempts I have a secret for you too:

It's over. Accept it. Move on and enjoy life.


RE: another blow.....
By SirLucius on 2/11/2008 1:36:49 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I argue that there was never a war since the 2 formats never competed on equal ground.


Huh? HD-DVD had a head start on Blu-ray. Just because Toshiba's marketing team sucks doesn't mean the two weren't on equal ground.

quote:
do you really think killing off the cheaper alternative in this supposed war is best for the consumer, or is killing off the more expensive one the best thing?


Can you really only think in the short term? Blu-ray prices WILL drop given time. There are multiple manufacturers of Blu-ray players. They will compete with each other to make the best product and get the most sales.

It's also more than just "cheaper vs. more expensive." HD-DVD is cheaper, but also holds less data. With Blu-ray discs you'll be able to put more HD content on a disc, i.e. special features will be in HD. Or do HD-DVD fans now not care about special features? I can never remember. Movies aside, the winner will be the next storage medium for the PC. Again, more storage is better than less. You pay more initially, but you get more. And like I said before, it's getting easier and easier to produce Blu-ray players and discs. Prices will drop.

quote:
Is it better to kill off the complete format or the one that still hasn't reached maturity?


I've got no real argument here other than that by the time Blu-ray has reached mass adoption, the spec should be complete.

quote:
Is it better to support toshiba or sony?


That's a stupid question. Both are companies out to take your money and make profit. I have no allegiance to one or the other. Besides which, Blu-ray is more than Sony. But you'll probably continue to ignore that little fact.

quote:
Is it better to put butter or jam on your toast?


Depends on my mood.


RE: another blow.....
By sweetsauce on 2/11/2008 2:05:11 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Huh? HD-DVD had a head start on Blu-ray. Just because Toshiba's marketing team sucks doesn't mean the two weren't on equal ground.
I think im talking about today, and today there isn't equal footing. I know 3 people that broke down and bought a blu player because theres nothing available on HD-DVD. IF, and i emphasize IF there was the same title available on both players, they would have purchased the HD-DVD one.
quote:
Can you really only think in the short term? Blu-ray prices WILL drop given time.
Once again im thinking of NOW. Right NOW i have to shell out over $300 for a player that doesn't do anything my current $100 HD-DVD player can do. I really don't care that in 2 years blu will be under $100, i care now that i have my hd tv and no movies to watch it on.
quote:
I've got no real argument here other than that by the time Blu-ray has reached mass adoption, the spec should be complete.
Is there any reason why the spec isn't completed now? I can think of only one, to get you to purchase another player in the future.
quote:
That's a stupid question. Both are companies out to take your money and make profit. I have no allegiance to one or the other
That part was a joke, since i don't really care who makes what. I care that i own HD-DVD and theres nothing to watch on it.


RE: another blow.....
By BansheeX on 2/12/2008 11:15:27 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Right NOW i have to shell out over $300 for a player that doesn't do anything my current $100 HD-DVD player can do.


$100 players is the REASON Toshiba had no manufacturer support. No business wanted to follow their kamikaze sales model. So you can't have your cake and eat it, too. If you want better industry support, you have to raise prices and get friends. If you want to try and firesell your competitor into oblivion, you have to forsake industry support.

Blu-ray is no more expensive than DVD when it was new, you're simply perceiving it as expensive in comparison to an inferior competitor that was cheaper to make, something DVD never had. And now that you've wasted hundreds of dollars on the losing format, you complain about expense? You'll end up paying the same overall in the end. I got my blu-ray player for $300, and when you get yours in two years, you'll have paid $150 for HD-DVD and $150 for Blu-ray. So you espouse savings, but you're actually quite short-sighted with money because you picked a rogue format with crap recordable capacity and lossy audio.

quote:
Is there any reason why the spec isn't completed now? I can think of only one, to get you to purchase another player in the future.


That conspiracy theory makes no sense because 2.0 makes ethernet manadatory. Ethernet, of course, is the conduit through which firmware can be updated.

quote:
That part was a joke, since i don't really care who makes what. I care that i own HD-DVD and theres nothing to watch on it.


Then why did you buy it in the first place? Brilliant consumer here, folks.


RE: another blow.....
By blaster5k on 2/11/2008 1:05:02 PM , Rating: 3
I was going to join Netflix so I could rent HD-DVD movies, but I guess I won't be doing that now.


RE: another blow.....
By sweetsauce on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/11/2008 1:46:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Numbers already show that people with a PS3 don't buy movies, so maybe then rent?

That's a good question. It would be interesting to see the statistic for how many PS3 users rent BR movies instead of buying.


RE: another blow.....
By darkpaw on 2/11/2008 4:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
Count me in that market. I've bought zero blu-ray discs, but I'll happily rent them from Netflix.

The price of buying one blu-ray movie ($30) pays for 2 months of Netflix. It's really a no brainer.


RE: another blow.....
By dluther on 2/11/2008 10:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's a good question. It would be interesting to see the statistic for how many PS3 users rent BR movies instead of buying.


Okay, so here I am -- a PS3 user. I may buy a movie for every 50 or so I rent, but it may be more or less. It has to be a *very* good movie; something worth "owning" versus "watching".

Seriously, how many people have $30 a pop to buy blu-ray discs they may only watch once? I'm sure there are people out there like that, and the only thing I can say is it sure must be nice!


RE: another blow.....
By dluther on 2/11/2008 10:44:15 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Theres an obvious reason why blu does better on netflix. Its called the PS3. Numbers already show that people with a PS3 don't buy movies, so maybe then rent?


I have a PS3, and I rent *and* buy movies, just like I did with good ol' plain-jane DVDs.

I think your numbers are bullshit.


RE: another blow.....
By hubajube on 2/12/2008 12:06:48 AM , Rating: 2
I'm DEFINITELY not in the HD DVD loser camp but he;s right. Most PS3 owners aren't buying Bluray movies. Most of them don't even know there's a Bluray player in the console. You can find stats on this on the internet.


RE: another blow.....
By dluther on 2/11/2008 10:37:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In my mind Netflix and Blockbuster shouldn't have chosen a side. I'm not sure how much money this saves them, but this move is certainly not a consumer driven move because it removes consumer choice.


Netflix and Blockbuster are exactly the people who needed to choose a side. They're the ones that carry all the movies people rent, completely agnostic of who makes it. Also, they are the ones who purchase most of the movies, so they would have some indication as to which platform they should cater to the most.

Sorry if your HD issues are causing you grief; but I'd look for Movie Gallery to take the Blu-Ray exclusive train next as well.


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