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Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Warner May Opt For Blu-ray

Warner Home Video is reportedly considering to change its dual-format policy in the high-definition video arena, a company's executive said.

Until now, Warner has been neutral in the high-def format war, releasing movies in both Blu-Ray and HD DVD formats. But Dan Silverberg, VP of high-definition media for Warner Home Video, hinted that the company may endorse the Blu-Ray format after all.

"One thing that may be changing is our strategy," said Dan Silverberg, Warner's vice president of High-Definition media. "When both formats launched and hardware prices were high, we made a decision to support both formats and let the consumer decide. But now that hardware pricing is affordable for both Blu-ray and HD DVD, it appears consumers no longer want to decide ? so the notion of staying in two formats for the duration is something we are re-evaluating now that we are in the fourth quarter," Silverberg added, according to Home Media Magazine.

Silverberg also noted that Warner has the top-selling Blu-ray title of all time with 300 and is consistently No. 1 or No. 2 in both Blu-ray sales market share and in number of Blu-ray titles in the market.

"We can definitely talk Blu-ray," he said. "We are committed to the format."

Currently, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment release their movies exclusively in the Blu-Ray format, while Paramount and Universal Studios have chosen the HD DVD side. Warner's possible decision to support Blu-ray over HD DVD could have a major impact on the high-def disc format war. Without Warner, HD DVD's catalogue would only include titles from two studios.

Warner had been conservative to release exclusively in either competitive formats. Early this year, the company considered to launch a dual-format high-definition disc, called Total HD. The disc Total HD Disc could be an elegant way for Warner to make its content available more widely in a way that is not conceding defeat for the format they have been backing. However, Warner in June pushed the launch of Total HD, into 2008, from the second half of this year, as was originally planned. This had already sparked speculation that the company is less sure that the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD would continue beyond this year.

So far this year, Blu-ray titles have outsold HD DVD titles by a 2-to-1 margin, according to a recent Sony-backed research.

But the availability of affordable high-def players is also expected to play significant role in the format war. Toshiba offers its mainstream HD DVD player at a $200 price tag, while Sony's PS3 - the cheaper Blu-Ray player of the market - is available for $400.

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