Sales of movies in the Blu-ray high-definition format have accounted for more than 60% of the market since the first week of January, far outpacing sales in the competing HD DVD format, figures from market researcher Nielsen VideoScan showed.
Since the week ended Jan. 7, Blu-ray sales have ranged from a low of 63.3% to a high of 69.6%, VideoScan said Tuesday. On the week ended Feb. 18, the latest figures available, Blu-ray accounted for 65% of the market, compared with HD DVD's 35%.
VideoScan declined to draw any conclusions from the numbers, but starting about two weeks after the release of Sony's PlayStation 3 videogame console, which includes a Blu-ray DVD player, the high definition format steadily grabbed market share from HD-DVD. Sony, which created the Blu-ray format, released PlayStation in the United States on Nov. 17.
Between the weeks ended Nov. 26 and Dec. 17, 2006; HD DVD sales remained ahead of Blu-ray. But starting on the week ended Dec. 24, Blu-ray pulled ahead with 53.3% of the market, VideoScan said.
Sony is in a high-stakes war with HD DVD supporters to influence consumers, as well as manufacturers of high-definition DVD players. The battle is often compared to the VHS-Betamax battle that ushered in the VCR era. Sony lost with Betamax, but hopes to avoid the same fate with Blu-ray by leveraging the popularity of its PlayStation console.
Many Hollywood and consumer electronics manufacturers are taking sides in support of either Blu-ray or HD DVD. Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Pictures, and Sony are exclusively releasing DVDs in Blu-ray, while Universal Studios is distributing only in HD DVD. Among player manufacturers, Sony, Hitachi and Philips favor Blu-ray, while Toshiba and NEC support HD DVD. Toshiba led the effort in the creation of HD DVD.
Warner and Paramount Pictures are the only two major studios that are releasing movies in both formats.