Is the format war really about to be over and if so, what are you going to do? - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 52 Old 01-08-08, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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Is the format war really about to be over and if so, what are you going to do?

Paramount in HD DVD blow

By Matthew Garrahan and Mariko Sanchanta in Las Vegas

Published: January 8 2008 02:49 in the Financial Times

Paramount is poised to drop its support of HD DVD after Warner Brothers’ recent backing of Sony’s Blu-ray technology, in a move that will sound the death knell of HD DVD and bring the home entertainment format war to a definitive end.

Paramount and DreamWorks Animation, which makes the Shrek films, came out in support of HD DVD last summer, joining General Electric’s Universal Studios as the main backers of the Toshiba format.

However, Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, is understood to have a clause in its contract with the HD DVD camp that would allow it to switch sides in the event of Warner Bros backing Blu-ray, according to people familiar with the situation.

Paramount is set to have a bumper 2008 with several likely blockbusters, including the latest instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise.

Paramount joining the Blu-ray camp would leave HD DVD likely to suffer the same fate as Sony’s now obsolete Betamax video technology, which lost out to VHS in a similar format war in the 1980s.

Warners decision last week to throw its weight behind Blu-ray saw it join Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as backers of the Sony format.

The Warners move gives Blu-ray about 70 per cent of Hollywood’s output, although the format’s grip on film content will increase further when Paramount comes aboard.

It is unclear whether DreamWorks Animation has the same get-out clause in its contract with the HD DVD camp.

However, Paramount and DreamWorks have a close relationship, with Paramount distributing DreamWorks Animation films. The two companies also signed their HD DVD contracts at the same time. Meanwhile, Universal has declined to comment on its next-generation DVD plans since the Warners move.

Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony, on Monday held out an olive branch, saying the company would be “open to dialogue” with the HD DVD camp to “grow the market”. The move came as new figures showed that Blu-ray had opened up a decisive lead over the rival home entertainment format.

Sir Howard said: “We are not going to push people around. We’ll talk to anyone ... we have a lot of work to do to grow the market. We’ll be systematic and open to dialogue at all times.”

He added that Sony still had “a lot of work” to do to get Blu-ray “widely accepted” among American consumers.

“With Warner’s support you saw billboards going up in different places and you saw television commercials getting more and more sophisticated and that’s what we’ll continue doing,” said Sir Howard.
From Times Online

January 8, 2008

Blu-Ray takes inside edge in war with HD-DVD

Up to 20 firms backing HD-DVD consider defection after Warner opted for Blu-Ray and Paramount is poised to follow

Leo Lewis, Asia Business Correspondent

The sprawling consortium of technology and media companies assembled to promote the HD-DVD format of next-generation high definition discs faces a spate of defections to the rival Blu-Ray Disc consortium.

As many as 20 companies currently part of the HD-DVD Promotion Group could be preparing to remove their names from the alliance’s 130-strong membership list, The Times has learned.

Paramount yesterday emerged as the latest major Hollywood studio poised to switch allegiances.

Despite the huge armies of technology companies ranged against each other in the format showdown, Paramount has turned out to be a pivotal figure. Its decision in August to give exclusive backing to HD-DVD was seen as a potentially devastating blow to the prospects of Blu-Ray, and to the strategy of Sony’s president, Sir Howard Stringer.

Sir Howard consistently argued, though, that the Playstation3 games console, which includes a Blu-Ray disc player, would put the format in people’s living rooms around the world more quickly than HD-DVD players would be adopted by consumers. But Paramount, like other members of the HD-DVD group such as Fujitsu, Lenovo and Kenwood, has hedged its bets. It offered exclusivity in August on the basis that it could reverse the decision should Warner Bros switch to Blu-Ray.

The threatened exodus from the HD-DVD format follows last week’s decision by Warner Bros to back the rival Blu-Ray Disc format, whose main technology backers include Sony, Apple and Dell.

One Tokyo-based analyst said that the defections could represent the final nails in the coffin of Toshiba’s HD-DVD standard after a bitterly-fought “format war” that has run for a little over one year.

Eiichi Katayama, of Nomura Securities, said that the battle between the formats, which display films and video games more sharply in an era of ever-growing television screen sizes, was now “entering its final phase”.

Pony Canyon, a major Japanese music, animation and film studio and part of the giant Fuji Television media empire, said that although it was currently part of the HD-DVD Promotion Group, the decisions of US studios meant it would “choose Blu-Ray in the end”.

Several other Japanese firms – including content producers and electronics component makers – said that their support of HD DVD was “under review” and that they knew of many others in the same position. Others, who admitted that they had previously been waiting for “clear market momentum”, said that it had now probably arrived.

Backers of HD-DVD point to the relative ease of producing the discs, and the lower cost of building machines capable of reading them. Unlike previous format wars, particularly the notorious Betamax v VHS skirmish in the 1980s, the war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD has effectively been decided in boardrooms, rather than electronics showrooms. The decisions of the major studios have come well before those of customers, who have generally held back from picking one format for fear of backing a loser.

Facing a future with only Universal Pictures as its major Hollywood supporter, Toshiba and HD-DVD, said analysts at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, could quickly find itself isolated. But HD-DVD does retain a few potential trump-cards, most notably Microsoft. It is the presence of Microsoft on HD-DVD’s list of supporters, say many of the promotion group, that preserves hope that the format could yet prevail.

I kept thinking with the money invested and what could end up costing businesses and consumers dearly, somehow all involved would come to their senses and work things out... that somehow both formats could survive. However, my thinking is always subject to change... and if these reports are in fact accurate, it really does look like the format war is about to be over.

I suppose all we can hope for now is that the consumers that lose out financially will somehow be compensated and not end up getting gouged by the powers to be (Sony). Those 10's of thousands of consumers who rushed out and bought HD-DVD players at x-mas time are going to have a poor attitude towards hi-def in general. It may be a long time before anyone ever gets them to invest in another HD player, especially when we will not likely see anymore HD players under $200 for a while to come and movie prices will probably ease back up.

Now I'm even on the fence as to whether to cancel my order on the Samsung BD-UP5000 dual format player and try to snag a 1400 before those prices go back up. People just thought things were confusing... I'm confused now for sure...

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post #2 of 52 Old 01-08-08, 06:13 PM
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

First off, I will say up front that I am an HD DVD supporter, I do not support Sony, or the BD camp in any way, because since day 1 they have been gouging the general public.

Sony has been doing that for years, and has always tried to build a monopoly.

I tend to spend much more time and $ on stuff like this than Joe Public does, so when I jumped on HD DVD, it was because the format seemed to make more sense to everyone involved.
The customer got great entertainment for the Dollar, as good as BD.

The Price it costs to first buy all new Eqpt to burn BD, for the masses, and the discs themselves are more expensive for the studios, giving me reason to think that they would prefer to use HD DVD instead.. this all go's back to my first point about the cash, if it cost's more to produce, what are the chances that it'll cost less to the consumer? Thanks to HD DVD, BD prices are the same, and lower than the "Combo's" which I've always detested.

Manufacturers of the Boutique brands sided with Sony, probably because they can gouge more outta your pockets, this is partly because Sony had more studio backing, so Toshiba went to cheaper to buy hardware. From what I understand, it costs more $ to produce a BD Player, maybe I'm mistaken.

IMO the masses got the shaft here.

I've seen some fairly well known folks state that they are glad that FINALLY one format won, so we can move on, to help Joe Public decide and push HDM.... what is he gonna decide, that BD is stupidly expensive, thats what... stalling the HD market even longer.

I don't see this as a good thing for the consumer AT ALL, if it wasn't for HD DVD, Sony would probably still be using Mpeg2, on profile 1.0, with prices still as stupidly expensive as when they first came out.

Average price is STILL way to high for the general public to care, and with no competition folks seem to think that Sony and the Cronies will lower prices...

I'll believe it when I see it..

As far as " Sir" Howard Stringer goes-
Yeah, sure Howie, you've always been open to dialogue...and I'm a Mutli-Billionaire !!!

Grow the Market? What?

Who calls themselves "Sir" anyways... Royalty that's who...

Sad situation really.
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post #3 of 52 Old 01-08-08, 07:28 PM
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

I also support HD DVD and really only did so because of the arrogance of Sony and blu ray supporters that I met on some other forums. But I think it will be very hard to keep HD going unless Toshiba comes up with something soon. If Microsoft would put an HD DVD drive in the XBOX that would be huge,IMO. Also,Sonny, That article about Paramount was just opinion based and Paramount came out earlier today and said it was untrue and they plan on backing HD DVD for some time to come.
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post #4 of 52 Old 01-08-08, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

Paramount Denies Report It Will Drop Toshiba's HD DVD

By Andy Fixmer and John Liu

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures denied a newspaper report that the studio is poised to follow Time Warner Inc. in abandoning Toshiba Corp.'s HD DVD technology.

``Paramount's current plan is to continue to support the HD DVD format,'' Brenda Ciccone, a spokeswoman for Paramount, said in an e-mail today.

Toshiba, the leading promoter of the HD DVD format for high- definition video discs, fell in Tokyo trading after the Financial Times reported Paramount is poised to adopt Sony Corp.'s Blu-ray format instead.

Paramount can defect because a clause in its contract with the HD DVD camp allows the studio to switch to Blu-ray if Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. dropped its support of Toshiba's standard, the newspaper reported today, citing unidentified people familiar with the plan. Warner Bros. said on Jan. 4 it would drop its support of HD DVD.

Keisuke Ohmori, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Toshiba, said the report is speculative. Masayo Endo, a spokeswoman for Sony, declined to comment on the report.

Maybe I'll just stick with the 5000 order and hope for the best. I don't have room for two players and I hate to give up the ability to watch my small collection of HD-DVD in my HT room.

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post #5 of 52 Old 01-08-08, 11:02 PM
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

even after reading all the posts above I still dont think HD DVD is done. I do think that the format will go away slowly but for the next year or two at least we will still see movies come out in the HD DVD format.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
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post #6 of 52 Old 01-09-08, 04:57 AM
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

Trades announced that Paramount backed out. That leaves Universal which is linked with Toshiba
but the format war is over and Blu-ray won. Perhaps some day we'll find out the corporate politics
behind the scenes and what really happened. If you spent money on a new HD DVD player, you
got burned as I did. I should've bought the $100 machine instead of the $500 one. Then I wouldn't
feel so cheated.
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post #7 of 52 Old 01-09-08, 05:55 AM
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

i bought the 500 dollar player and watched ONE movie. that sucks. but it was transformers
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post #8 of 52 Old 01-09-08, 06:08 AM
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

I guess look for the remaining HD DVD discs at giveaway prices over the next couple of months. I'll try to
grab "Adventures of Robin Hood", "Under Siege", "Blazing Saddles" and the "Star Trek" TV series
when that happens. I was able to watch a number of the HD DVD titles and they looked and
sounded great including "2001", "Mutiny on the Bounty", "Trading Places", "Superman", "Animal
House" and "Willy Wonka". So I'll use the machine until it dies since it upscales Standard DVDs
nicely although when there was a glitch on the "Rockford Files" disc it wouldn't play it and I
had to switch to the Samsung player which will play anything. I'll wait until there's a decent
selection of Blu-ray discs out there that I actually want to own before purchasing a player.
Right now the selection is so small it's not worth the investment. Let's see what the studios
plan for release in the future since all of the old lists are now obsolete. I was looking forward
to the proposed Warner HD DVD discs of "The Music Man" and "North by Northwest" which will
hopefully now be released on Blu-ray in the near future. Both were filmed on similar large format
negatives (35mm horizontal negative with an eight sprocket image) and should look very sharp in high definition. It will also give me time to recover from getting ripped off on the Toshiba player.
Not really Toshiba's fault but certainly the industry's fault for not standardizing HD before it's
introduction to protect consumers although I doubt whether that is a concern for most studios.
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post #9 of 52 Old 01-09-08, 06:48 AM
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

Truly a sad day. Let's just hope HD-DVD can find a way to survive. Although it's douptful...
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post #10 of 52 Old 01-09-08, 07:51 AM
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Re: Is the format war really about to be over?

This has been a very, very interesting week, that's for sure. Lots and lots of internet news, rumors, speculation, and facts. The outpouring of news from CES 2008 is not over yet, either.

You know, back in 2006 before the launch of either format, I took a hard look at the likely scenarios for both formats. Mostly I looked at them from the CE's and Studios perspective because I knew that the consumers interests were not really a factor. It seemed Blu-ray would have a major advantage of both CE support(hardware companies) and studio support(movies). Cost and consumer friendliness had a lean towards HD DVD. Despite the cost model which drives most average Joe's, I saw Blu-ray as having a strong advantage to survive(not necessarily beat HD DVD, but at least co-exist with HD DVD). I did not see HD DVD as a wise purchase for myself(it would be a good choice for those who have to have Universal movies in HD), so I took the sacrifice of not being able to watch Universal movies in HD, and bought a PS3. A PS3 would allow me to play Blu-rays, but it would also not be a total waste of a purchase if BD were to fail because the PS3 could play games, serve a media hub for music, videos, and photos. It was a safeguard for me that I told myself, I won't buy a standalone until the format war has come to a conclusion and player specs and prices have met my needs, which I thought back in 2006 might happen in 2008 or 2009. It looks like everything is on pace with my original thinking, but you just don't know. I think the HD DVD can't afford the payoffs anymore, while the BDA certainly has a lot of cash. Unless Microsoft were to step in and help HD DVD, then HD DVD is going to fade away.
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