Netflix backs Blu-ray

February 12, 2008 9:32:51 AM PST
Netflix Inc., said Monday it will cease carrying high-definition movie rentals in Toshiba Corp.'s HD DVD format, becoming the latest retailer to go exclusively with the rival Blu-ray technology favored by five major movie studios. The online movie rental company has stocked both formats since they became available in 2006, but said the decision by a majority of major film studios to issue films only in Blu-ray format made it likely that the Sony's Blu-ray technology will prevail.

"From the Netflix perspective, focusing on one format will enable us to create the best experience for subscribers," the company said, adding that not many customers order high-def DVDs. Calls to representatives for the North American HD DVD Promotional Group Inc. were not immediately returned.

Toshiba and Sony have been vying to set the standard for high-definition DVDs for several years. The stakes are high because the winner will also get a boost in sales of DVD players needed to read the new format.

Sony has taken a considerable lead in the format rivalry in recent months, gaining the endorsement of The Walt Disney Co., Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures, News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. Entertainment.

By contrast, Viacom's Paramount Pictures, which also owns DreamWorks SKG, and Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric, have opted to release films only in HD DVD.

Still, many consumers have held off on buying a high-def DVD player until the dominant format is decided. That has led some major retailers, including Best Buy Co. Inc., to choose sides in hopes that a single format will entice customers to go high-def.

The company said Monday it will begin promoting Blu-ray as the preferred format in its stores beginning in March.

"Best Buy has always believed that the customer will benefit from a widely accepted single format that would offer advantages such as product compatibility and expanded content choices," Brian Dunn, Best Buy's president and chief operating officer said in a statement. "Because we believe that Blu-ray is fast emerging as that single format, we have decided to focus on Blu-ray products." The move follows Target Inc.'s decision last year to sell only Blu-ray DVD players.

Netflix rival Blockbuster Inc. has also said it will stock only Blu-ray titles as it expands its high-def offerings.

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On the Net:

Blu-ray Disc Association:

http://www.blu-raydisc.com/bluray-site.htm North American HD DVD Promotional Group Inc.: http://www.TheLookAndSoundOfPerfect.com

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