If the format war wasn’t over before, it is now. The largest blows to the HD DVD format came this week with three major companies announcing they are out.
Netflix, Toshiba, and Wal-Mart have all decided to phase out HD DVD products in favor of Blu-Ray.
Toshiba is the largest manufacturer of the format and an early supporter when the next generation discs split into two sides. Now they will be discontinuing their line of HD DVD players. They haven’t made an official announcement, but experts say it will happen early next week, according to Variety. (Update: They’re officially out as of Tuesday)
After the Warner Bros switch in January, the only studios left on the side of HD DVDs were Paramount and Universal. With this move they’ll basically be forced to fall in line too.
And if the biggest hardware company dropping the format wasn’t enough, how about the biggest retail chain? Wal-Mart is out too. CNN says that by June it will be exclusive, along with any Sam’s Club locations.
“We’ve listened to our customers, who are showing a clear preference toward Blu-ray products and movies with their purchases,” said Gary Severson, Wal-Mart’s Senior VP of Home Entertainment.
Also bowing out is Internet rental service Netflix, who sees the inevitable dominance of Blu-ray among the studios. Emails sent to all of their subscribers say they are going exclusively Blu within the year. Any “saved” HD DVD choices for future release will be replaced with regular DVDs, but any existing HD DVDs can still be rented for the “next several months.” Click here to read one of those emails.
Again, the “format” to watch is “digital delivery.” Even the article by Variety mentions this is the future of the business. This might bring all consumers under one high-definition disc roof, but it will come too late as companies like Apple and even Netflix are already offering more streaming and downloadable content.