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High-definition accounts for less than 1 percent of total movie rentals

Ever since the launch of the PlayStation 3, high-definition movie retail sales have steadily tipped towards Blu-ray Disc’s favor. Throughout 2007, sales of Blu-ray Disc movies typically doubled those of HD DVD.

Although software sales are a good measure of a format’s popularity, not every consumer chooses to purchase a movie he or she wishes to enjoy on any given evening or weekend. Those who don’t see the sense in spending $20 to $30 for a single viewing usually turn to rental options.

For HD DVD hardware owners, rental options became more limited after Blockbuster announced in June 2007 that it would carry only Blu-ray Disc movies in most of its brick and mortar outlets. Besides turning to independent rental shops, fans of the format resorted to online rental services such as Blockbuster By Mail and Netflix.

Early last week, Netflix announced that it would also cease stocking new HD DVD titles and would concentrate on Blu-ray Disc as being the high-definition format of choice. Meanwhile, Blockbuster told customers that it would continue to stock titles new and old on HD formats for its mail rentals.

“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.”

Netflix did not disclose, however, its own customers’ rental preferences between the two competing high-definition formats.

Zip.ca, Canada’s largest online movie rental company, shared with DailyTech its shipment numbers over the last 18 months – with particular focus on high-definition rentals.

Unsurprisingly, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals combined account for less than 0.87 percent of all shipments by Zip.ca since mid-2006.

4,232,693 standard definition DVDs were shipped to Zip.ca customers over the last 18 months, making the 19,495 HD DVD and 17,611 Blu-ray Disc shipment totals appear virtually insignificant.

Zip.ca’s director of communications Shelagh O’Connor explained that the company has shipped more HD DVD than Blu-ray Disc due to the former format’s stronger start. “HD DVD came out of the gate stronger than Blu-ray,” O’Conner wrote, “but since December (when we shipped almost equal amounts of each) Blu-ray has outshipped HD DVD in the past two months and is gaining momentum.”

The Canadian rental firm’s statistics for 2008, however, show a clear shift towards Blu-ray Disc. In January, Zip.ca customers rented 2,712 Blu-ray Discs and 2,262 HD DVDs. The trend became even more apparent in the first half of February, with 1,684 Blu-ray Discs compared to 1,024 HD DVDs.

Even with the evident change in consumer preference in action, Zip.ca says that it has no plans to follow in Netflix’s footsteps of dropping HD DVD. “It is Zip's mission to provide customers with ALL the titles released in ALL three formats - DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD,” Richard Anderson, president and CEO of Zip.ca, told DailyTech. “We will continue to do that so long as there is reasonable demand for each of them.”

“Having said that, we decided at the beginning of this year that Blu-ray is in the process of becoming consumers' preference between the two hi-def formats,” Anderson continued. “We did so based partly on external industry trends and data, fortified by our own own customer data, which has shown HD DVD's early rental lead steadily eroded over the last 12 months, with Blu-ray emerging as our customers' preference in recent months, and with seemingly-strong momentum towards a widening preference.”

While Zip.ca has no intention of leaving its HD DVD customers out in the cold, the company is already bolstering its Blu-ray Disc inventory in expectance of a high-definition format resolution and growth. “As such, we are now aggressively over-investing in Blu-ray inventory – meaning buying more than we need, strictly speaking, right now, in the belief that it will have a long and growing demand,” added Anderson.



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By PAPutzback on 2/18/2008 9:54:37 AM , Rating: 5
We all know HD-DVD has lost so I vote we ignore every single article that pops up every 5 minutes discussing it.

Let's focus on Blu-Ray tech now, where the deals are and what the next gen format will be.




By Gul Westfale on 2/18/2008 9:58:06 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
I vote we ignore every single article that pops up every 5 minutes discussing it.


i second that motion, even if it risks pissing off michael "i don't know the difference" bay.


By beoba on 2/18/2008 11:24:17 AM , Rating: 5
Blu-Ray now has to compete with DVD prices if it wants to become mainstream.


By Hiawa23 on 2/18/2008 10:07:18 AM , Rating: 2
speak for yourself, as I am looking for every article possible about the subject. I own a HD DVD player & a PS3, & looking forward for the HD DVD prices to drop so I can stock up, cause just cause the format is failing doesn't mean I can't go on for years to come enjoying the movies. I still watch VHS, like the article read HD DVD & BR probably makes up less than 5% of the market so I don't expect BR to overtake DVD anytime soon. DVDs are still my main format.


By PAPutzback on 2/18/2008 10:13:35 AM , Rating: 2
I imagine any movie on HD-DVD now that isn't on BR will soon be offered in BR. I imagine Walmart will have their HD-DVD movies all thrown a big box soon priced at 9.99 or less. Why tie up shelf space.

What is 5% of the market now will be 25 after next christmas. There will be lines everywhere at 4am waiting for that sub 100 dollar blu-ray player the day after thanksgiving.

I prefer to come see Tech articles at DailyTECH not the latest gossip. Let's get down to some hardware articles.


By glennpratt on 2/18/2008 10:19:38 AM , Rating: 2
You didn't understand his post. He's saying now is a good time to stock up on HD DVD if you OK with the risks. Prices are dropping like rocks, so if you have both players, you can get some dirt cheap movies now.

I just bought an Xbox 360 HD DVD player, Troy, 300, King Kong and the Planet Earth collection for $100. Absolutely worth it, even if HD DVD goes the way of the dodo.


By PAPutzback on 2/18/2008 10:27:15 AM , Rating: 2
I uderstood he wants to stock up. Therefore I said he would be able to stock up at dropping prices because Wal-Mart will take every HD-DVD movie it has and throw them in a box at the end of the aisle and throw a 9.99 price on them to get rid of them.

Had you not got Planet Earth in that group of movies I'd said you got screwed. Was that the package deal that came with the HD-DVD add on for the 360. Where did you find such a good deal on the 360 addon.


By glennpratt on 2/18/2008 11:39:46 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/02/06/amazon-80-xbo...

Amazon had the drive on sale a while back. Planet Earth was from an Amazon Marketplace seller.


By pomaikai on 2/18/2008 11:51:34 AM , Rating: 2
I personally wouldnt buy a HD-DVD player and movies now because I dont want to have to keep an HD-DVD player hooked up just for a handful of movies.

I have avoided the market because HD-DVD players and movies are a more enjoyable experience while BluRay has all the content. It good to see HD-DVD force bluray to improve there specs and hopefully the companies can improve the user experience of the newer blu ray players. My father-in-law hates using his Sony BD player because it is so slow on bootup and has sluggish menus. He prefers his HD-DVD player because of the responsiveness, quicker bootup times, and better menus.


By BladeVenom on 2/18/2008 12:51:04 PM , Rating: 1
I think HD_DVD player will also read regular DVDs with H.264. Most high defintion movies can fit on a single DVD, and still look great. So they will still be useful.


By Oregonian2 on 2/18/2008 2:11:34 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
What is 5% of the market now will be 25 after next christmas. There will be lines everywhere at 4am waiting for that sub 100 dollar blu-ray player the day after thanksgiving.


Needs to make it to 5% first. I don't think Blu-Ray + HD_DVD together have made it to 1% yet.


By Aquila76 on 2/18/2008 10:07:50 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it's all but over. Kind of like the last Superbowl when technically there was 1 second remaining that had to be played. Time to call this one, folks.


By inperfectdarkness on 2/19/2008 11:17:46 AM , Rating: 2
one thought on this:

now that the ps3 appears to have been a major contributing factor in tipping the scales in favor of blu-ray; do you suppose it was all a grand scheme by sony from the get-go?

i mean...without blu-ray support, the ps3 would have undoubtedly cost at least $100 less. it would have also subsequently sold much better--even without hi-def support. i'm really convinced that sony connived to sacrifice ps3 initial sales successes in favor of pushing the even more lucritive championing of its propritary hi-def format.

not that i'd really be rooting against them. after all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend?


Don't write off HD-DVD yet
By Gastrian on 2/18/2008 8:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
I know its fashionable to say that its all over for HD-DVD, Blu-Ray won, etc but 2008/2009 will be an important period for HD-DVD.

The cinema releases from their exclusive partners for 2008 currently sits at
Shine a Light - The Martin Scorsee/ Rolling Stones documentry.
Iron Man
The Incredible Hulk
Indiana Jones
Wanted
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

Those are all released before or during the summer period so it is likely the vast majority of them will be released pre-holiday season.

I'm not discounting Blu-Ray's releases, the Dark Night could potentially be one of the biggest releases of the year but the bulk of the Blu-Ray exclusives fall into children/family or comedy categories which aren't really big HD pushers.

Basically if HD-DVD screw up this year then they deserve to lose but I see a potential comeback, while the ratios and market shares look bad for HD-DVD the actual sales figures, taken as a whole (including DVD sales) show a very small margin between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.




RE: Don't write off HD-DVD yet
By Belard on 2/18/2008 9:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
2008/2009 an important year? There is no 2009 for HD-DVD.

What Exclusive Partners are you looking at? Even before last week when Best Buy, NetFlix, WalMart announced that they will end HD-DVD support in March... The "exclusives" studios of UNI/P were very limited... in fact, WB which announced the end of HD-DVD support in May said they would still release titles and have a FAR more titles in the pipe (about 25) than UNI/P put together (I think 10, tops).

- Spielberg is Pro Blu. He has enough pull to make his movies on Blu anyways. Show me the list of his movies on HD-DVD? I don't see any. Close Encounters is on Blu and I look forward to getting that.

When Toshiba offically throws in the towel this week, Uni/P will fold. WB may or maynot continue to release new titles - but I think they will release a smaller amount in numbers as sales drop.

The chances of seeing any of those titles on HD-DVD for christmas... very unlikely. And even if they did come out, they sure won't be exclusive and won't make a dent against Blu-Ray.

Blu is family? Do you know how much kids watch Disney films? And yeah, WB does Bugs Bunny but they also do The Matrix, Training Day (yeah, very family there), Nip Tuck, The Sopranos, Eyes Wide Shut... Hmmm.

There is no comeback, there is no last minute save by killing the flag carrier. (Oh so fun to do when he's 1 step from scoring) 75% studio supper = Blu. 93% of Japanese market = Blu. Japanese stores are already going Blu ONLY. Europe = Blu. The USA was HD's strongest market, but since the PS3 and reduced price of Blu-Ray players (since they use the same laser parts, it reduces production costs) in 2007 - the market quickly fliped to Blue which came out 6 months after HD-DVD. Sure, Amazon is the best seller of HD-DVD movies and players - but they never even touched BB(Best Buy) sales of the same thing and HD-DVD sales have constantly been going down.

Once the last 3 nails are hammered in (Toshiba, Universal and Paramount) in which we hope & expect Toshiba to do it first as its looks better for ALL 3 of them if done this way. The already weak HD-DVD sales will only become nothing more than a fire sale. $50 players, $10 or less movies. And once that happens, far more movie releases will happen for Blu-Ray. Production budget/support is not split up between HD/DVD.

The Dark Knight won't save HD-DVD.


RE: Don't write off HD-DVD yet
By Belard on 2/19/2008 4:58:30 AM , Rating: 2
In case you don't know. It is 100% offical - Toshiba is out of the HD-DVD business. They are shipping out whatever inventory is left to be sold off in the fire-sales. (Cost more to ship/destory the units) But by March, nobody will be getting additional Toshiba players. LG.. who knows.

None of those movie titles are on the release list for HD-DVD and never will. Sorry.


RE: Don't write off HD-DVD yet
By Belard on 2/19/2008 6:49:47 AM , Rating: 2
This list was made before the annoucements by Best Buy, WalMart and NetFlix to drop support of HD-DVD. For the most part, its a few weeks old in that very few new HD-DVD titles and more Blu were added.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=94...

Universal and Paramount are dropping support before WB and at least the WB want nice enough to tell people.


Finally Blu-ray rental in Sweden!
By sibbor on 2/18/2008 10:15:13 AM , Rating: 1
Yesterday I went past a video shop in my home town, looking trough the shelfs for a movie to rent. That's when I saw the shelf with all the blue cases - namely the Blu-ray movies!

So far the range of movies wasn't all that good, but at least it's a start. There were movies like Spider-Man 3, The Patriot, Resident Evil and about five other titles. Since I've watched all the movies I didn't rent one - but I was very satisfied by seeing these movies in the shelves.

Just lovely! Keep 'em coming.




RE: Finally Blu-ray rental in Sweden!
By GNStudios on 2/18/2008 10:39:10 AM , Rating: 2
where do you live? It has been available in Sweden for a long time. Not just on LoveFilm.


RE: Finally Blu-ray rental in Sweden!
By sibbor on 2/18/2008 11:04:50 AM , Rating: 1
Uh, yeah, first of sorry for confusing you. Of course I've been able to rent movies in Sweden via different services, like websites, but not from local stores in my city, Borås.

It really starts to feel like these HD movies is accessible for the end customers, when they reach our movie rental stores (in this case, Videomix - http://www.videomix.se/).


By GNStudios on 2/18/2008 2:45:29 PM , Rating: 2
That explains it! Although I´ve never rented a BD-movie I sure have seen then available. But that's true, I haven't seen them at Videomix in Lund either.


FiOS vs. Blu-Ray?
By UNCjigga on 2/18/2008 1:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone have the numbers for total FiOS customers vs. Blu-Ray households as of January 1 2008? I would imagine Blu-Ray has at least a 2:1 advantage here but that's just a gut feeling. It'd be interesting to see if Verizon can offer a decent library of On Demand HD movies with the quality to rival Blu-Ray. I know many cable operators already offer "HD" On Demand, but the quality and selection are abysmal.




RE: FiOS vs. Blu-Ray?
By Oregonian2 on 2/18/2008 2:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
That's an interesting comparison. We just went through the service upgrade exercise after having gotten a 58" Plasma (..PZ750) and went with DirecTV. We also could have picked Dish, FiOS TV, and Comcast. Verizon FiOS has diddlysquat HD support currently (at least here). I think they promised more at CES 2008, but that's vaporware at the moment (DirecTV has somewhere between 80 and 100 channels of HD now depending upon how one counts, and a new satellite launch is due up next month). FiOS had something like a couple dozen.

Funny thing related to your posting is that we will soon be having Verizon install FiOS for internet service and we'll be using that for DirecTv's Video on Demand (works now on our DSL, but takes forever to download). Don't know how much (if any) is HD -- been only available on our HR21's for a week or so). Undoubtedly is MPEG4 stuff though.


Nice Pic
By Trisagion on 2/18/2008 10:23:04 AM , Rating: 2
Though I wish it were Michael Bay in the red helmet.




By InternetGeek on 2/18/2008 4:56:12 PM , Rating: 2
Say you got a Blue Ray in a USB enclosure. Wouldn't that be a lot cheaper and still get the full quality? I'm quite sure PC Drives are upgradable to Profile 2.0.

Can someone confirm?




By ElrondElvish on 2/18/2008 4:57:05 PM , Rating: 2
Relying in Zip.ca for HD stats is absolutely useless. I was a member of Zip.ca for three years, but stopped my membership six months after buying my PS3 (the first day it was available at Futureshop).

I queued blu-ray after blu-ray, yet they would never ship. My 4 discs at a time plan was getting me around 12-14 rentals a month when I was requesting DVD (at $20 a month). Once I started requesting Blu-rays, they could only ship 3-4 a month. It was ridiculous to pay $20 for 3-4 Blu rentals when that would easily get 12-14 DVDs.

Zip.ca simply didn't carry enough Hi-Def discs to fulfill its orders. Worse, sometimes they'd even send DVDs when the que was for Blu. Finally I canceled my subscription and started physically renting Blu from Blockbuster (and now Rogers).




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