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Friday, March 17, 2006
Warner Sees Next-gen DVD Sales Strong at Year-end


Warner Home Video on Thursday said it expects motion picture industry sales of next-generation DVDs to reach as much as $750 million in the last quarter of this year, which will include their first holiday sales season.

"From October to December, we expect at least $250 million to possibly as much as $750 million in sales industrywide," said Steve Nickerson, senior vice president of market management for Warner Home Video, Reuters reports.

Warner Home Video, a unit of Time Warner Warner Home Video plans to release its first three titles on April 18 in HD DVD format. The company had previously announced that the first video titles on Toshiba's HD DVD format would be available in March the 28th, but it seems that the delay in the finalisation of the AACS content protection schemes used in HD DVD have forced the company to cancell its initial plans.

Currenlty, Warner will release the "Million Dollar Baby", "The Phantom of the Opera", and "The Last Samurai" HD DVD movie titles in April 18 price at $28.99.

Nickerson said Warner Home Video was forecasting industry-wide sales of next-generation DVDs of $35 million to $40 million in April to September, as electronics makers and studios begin to release the next-generation DVD players and movies.

In disclosing Warner's forecast for the fourth quarter, Nickerson attributed the wide range to uncertainty regarding home penetration of Sony's PlayStation 3, which is expected to launch in November with a Blu-ray drive, and Microsoft's Xbox game console, which he said is expected eventually to have an HD DVD add-on drive.

"This is a new format and we're using a lot of new technologies. We wanted to make sure that with all of these new things that the product is right," he said.

Earlier this week, Sony said it would delay the release of its new PlayStation 3 console until early November because development of some of the technology was behind schedule.

Despite the PS3 delay, industry insiders believe the first stand-alone Blu-ray players will still come to market around May, with Hollywood rolling out titles accordingly.

Nickerson said Warner was targeting late June and early July for its first Blu-ray titles and saw no delays in other Blu-ray products as a result of the Sony PS3 delay.


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