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The Storm After the Calm

3 Sep, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange

Just when we thought the studios in the high-definition disc battle had picked sides, Paramount Home Entertainment and its DreamWorks unit gave up the role of Switzerland (supporting both formats) and allied itself exclusively with HD DVD.

Since then, the Blu-ray Disc vs. HD DVD war has intensified, with both sides making Amazon.com a leading battleground (see story, page 10). Also, the Chinese announced a new low-priced HD DVD player; Blu-ray supporter 20th Century Fox announced the details of two big titles coming to Blu-ray, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Live Free or Die Hard; and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment hailed a quarter million in sales of its Blu-ray titles in Europe.

It's like watching a very fast-paced tennis game.

The battle has gotten so intense that Home Theater Forum's Ron Epstein posted a letter to video geekdom on his site asking everyone to calm down.

“Let's all try to funnel our energy into making the Internet a place where those consumers can come for factual information instead of constant name-calling,” he wrote.

The constant back-and-forth has resulted in numerous hastily worded petitions to the studios — many of which have garnered little support, but lots of attention.

Meanwhile, Warner Home Video data shows that the format war is the least of our problems. The biggest reason folks don't want to buy either high-definition format is because they think they don't need it. Nearly half think DVD is good enough.

Here's hoping that the studio and hardware supporters of both formats remember that, and, instead of launching all their firepower at the competition, project the message that high-definition discs — no matter what format — offer the greatest viewing experience in the home.

Offering consistently well-produced products in the high-definition medium also is a must. As consumers buy their new HDTVs this holiday season, the industry needs to be there to provide them with attractive product.

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