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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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RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi 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 on 2/11/08, Rating: -1
RE: another blow.....
By nemrod on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: another blow.....
By Master Kenobi on 2/11/2008 1:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
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.

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
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 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.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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