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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: uh, what?
By Mitch101 on 2/11/2008 12:22:45 PM , Rating: 4
I agree while it may appear we have a winner in the format war the problem is the players are still $350+ range meaning I and many others will live on Direct HD or wait until there is a $100 BLU-RAY player.

Had they gone with HD-DVD I would have gone that route and been buying movies.

What has happened because of the format war is that I realize I don't need to buy movies. I wouldn't buy DVD because HD was out. I wouldn't buy HD movies because there was a format war. The movie studios have kind of weened me off buying movies. Thankyou HD-DVR. I never really cared about additional content so in all the format was is saving me money. By the time I come around now since going the HD-DVR route movies will probably be on the $6.99 Best Buy deals of the week in the Sunday paper or just rent them when the players drop to $100. Of course now if many others like me are out there they will blame piracy for why HD movies aren't selling.

Thankyou format war.

RE: uh, what?
By Master Kenobi on 2/11/2008 12:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
You've got a point. I picked up a cheap HD-DVD player and have been pleased with it. On the other hand I have only purchased 3 titles (plus the 7 that came with the player). Majority of my movie collection is in DVD. Most of them aren't available in either HD format, not that I would re-purchase something I already own. Price of entry on BR players isn't helping either. I threw down about $150 for a HD-DVD player. The generally accepted magic number for players seems to be $100. BR will not pull any sort of widespread adoption until they can get there. Clock is ticking too since Cable/Internet providers are ramping up HD content agressively.

RE: uh, what?
By ElFenix on 2/11/2008 2:30:33 PM , Rating: 2
not to mention that not even a quarter of US households have an HD TV yet. (nielson report at the end of october was 14%. even if black friday and the holiday season resulted in a lot of new HD sets being purchased, i doubt an additional 10% of households picked up an HD set)

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