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As the Blogosphere Turns

14 Nov, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Dan Silverberg, I feel for you. For several days around Halloween, you and I were the unwitting flash points in the raging format war between Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, the two high-definition disc formats that are vying to succeed DVD.

What happened was this: Silverberg, Warner Home Video's VP of high-definition media, was at the Blu-ray Festival in Hollywood. He told me and several online journalists that Warner was re-evaluating its strategy of releasing titles in both formats, and may go with only one after the fourth quarter. The studio had been waiting for consumers to settle the format war. But with both sides digging in their heels and pumping out increasingly cheap players and more and more product, something simply has to give, Silverberg intimated — lest the format war continue to drain resources the studios could expend toward battling consumer indifference, the No. 1 obstacle to mass adoption of HD media.

Because Silverberg was speaking at a Blu-ray event, and because he also said Warner, at least for now, was “committed” to the Blu-ray format, his comments — as laid out in a story posted on our Home Media Magazine Web site — were immediately misconstrued by an army of online bloggers and forum-posters as indicating Warner was contemplating an imminent switch to Blu-ray only. My story was only on our own Web site; it was not yet in print, nor had it been posted on the Hollywood Reporter site. And yet within one day, a Google search showed it had been picked up 1,055 times — a number that after a week had grown to more than 12,500.

Let me set the record straight, for my sanity and for Dan's. Neither Dan nor I ever said Warner would likely go Blu-ray only. I never meant to imply it. If I had, it surely would have been a blazing headline, not a few sentences tucked away near the end of my story. And yet the fever pitch of the worldwide blogosphere was such that an innocuous statement became an earth-shattering development that could settle the format war, once and for all.

People, people! Read my stories, but don't read into them. Around the office I'm known as Mr. Simple and Direct: I say what I mean, nothing more, nothing less. So to reiterate: Warner may ditch its dual-format strategy sometime after the fourth quarter and go exclusively HD DVD or Blu-ray. Then again, it may not. The one thing I promise — if there is any change, you'll read it here first.

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