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
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
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.