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Blu-ray Regains Lead in High-Def Titles

9 Nov, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey

When Paramount Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation SKG Blu-ray Disc titles were taken out of the picture in August, Blu-ray lost 29 titles in its repertoire. That doesn't include three titles that had been announced, but not released.

HD DVD's stint as leader in terms of high-def releases proved short-lived, however, as in the first week of November Blu-ray regained its lead in terms of total titles available to consumers.

According to figures from The DVD Release Report, total Blu-ray titles available at retail passed HD DVD for the first time since the Paramount/DreamWorks decision, 332 to 328, the week ended Oct. 31. Companies that support Blu-ray also have 66 titles in the pipeline, compared to 42 for HD DVD backers. Those numbers include four HD DVD and 11 Blu-ray titles released Nov. 6.

Compared to the 236 DVD titles added to the market the week ended Oct. 31, the 16 high-def titles released during the same period (12 Blu-ray, four HD DVD) still represent a snail's pace of high-definition software releases.

Since the Paramount/DreamWorks HD DVD exclusive decision, Paramount Home Entertainment has released six HD DVD titles through Nov. 6. A Paramount representative did not immediately return a request for comment, however a Paramount representative said at a DVD Forum event in early October that more than 30 HD DVD titles were already being planned for 2008. For the rest of the year, Paramount and DreamWorks have another six HD DVD releases planned. The two companies have one more (Zodiac, Jan. 8) announced thus far for early 2008.

Representatives from both sides have stressed how important this fourth quarter is for high-def media. However, Jim Bottoms of the home entertainment research firm Understanding & Solutions said recently that the fourth quarter is no longer the determining period for either format. The Paramount/DreamWorks decision made sure of that, he said.

“There is growing concern throughout the industry that both high-definition disc formats could be lost completely in a world of competing delivery options and viewing platforms,” Bottoms said. “As we stand today, industry support for [Blu-ray] across content and hardware remains the strongest grouping, and it is therefore the format with the greatest chance of market success, although its strength is being eroded.

“Whatever happens, continued competition between the two groups will lead to continuing confusion and uncertainty, and therefore delayed consumer purchase decisions.”

Barring any surprise announcements, Blu-ray will have extended its lead in terms of total title count by the end of the year. Not including titles set for release after Dec. 31, the total title count will likely be 406 Blu-ray Discs versus 372 HD DVDs.

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