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HD DVD Group downplays Sony's deal with Target

Target revealed last week that it would begin carrying the Sony BDP-S300 Blu-ray Disc player this October. The announcement was significant as the Sony player would be the retailer’s only standalone high-definition movie player product throughout the holiday season.

As much as some may mark this as a victory for Blu-ray Disc supporters, the HD DVD Group views it as just another marketing initiative by Sony.

“All they are announcing is they are merchandising an endcap with Blu-ray, which is normal merchandising at any retailer,” Ken Graffeo, co-president of the North American HD DVD Promotional Group, said to Home Media Magazine. “Just like HD DVD has a dedicated endcap at Best Buy, and a dedicated endcap at Circuit City, and dedicated space and fixturing at Wal-mart.”

“Target is not making any statement about the format. They are merely providing an endcap, with a cost associated with it,” Graffeo continued. “The question I ask is, knowing that HD DVD is the most affordable high-definition format, it will be very interesting to see how the Sony player will appeal to Target guests.”

Sony, on the other hand, sees the move as a considerable victory and a sign of retailer preference. David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said, “I think what you’re seeing is that retailers are deciding... This is the beginning of a trend. Retailers are very impatient now.”

“It’s not like DVD sales are in rapid growth mode the way they were three or four years ago. They are flat or in a state of decline, and retailers can no longer wait for us to figure this out,” said Bishop. “We think this is a big step in clarifying the decision to the consumer.”

Target spokeswoman Brie Heath said last week, “We are not proclaiming one format vs. the other as the preferred consumer technology, and software will continue to be available to our guests in both the Blu-ray and HD DVD format,”

“HD DVD players are the most affordable,” added Graffeo. “It's one thing to have a player featured, but it's another if it doesn't sell.”





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