Netflix Picks Blu-Ray In High-Def Video Format Battle

Netflix plans to stock high-definition videos in the Blu-ray format exclusively and phase out the HD DVD format.
Netflix has taken sides in the high-definition video format war.

The company said it plans to stock high-definition videos in the Blu-ray format exclusively. Netflix said it will phase out Toshiba's HD DVD format because four of the six major movie studios have decided to publish their high-definition videos exclusively in Sony's Blu-ray format.

Warner Home Video announced last month that it would release all of its high-definition titles in the Blu-ray format by year's end. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment also have backed Blu-ray, while Paramount Home Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment continue to publish in the HD DVD format.

Most Netflix subscribers who request high-def DVDs have chosen Blu-ray over HD DVD, the company said.

Netflix said its customers' preferences and the studios' decisions show a clear choice has emerged in the high-definition war.

The company will continue renting HD DVDs until the life cycle of those in its inventory has ended. The transition will likely be complete by the end of the year.

"From the Netflix perspective, focusing on one format will enable us to create the best experience for subscribers who want high-definition to be an important part of how they enjoy our service," Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix, said in the company's announcement.

Sarandos said Netflix predicts all of the movie studios will publish in Blu-ray.

"The prolonged period of competition between two formats has prevented clear communication to the consumer regarding the richness of the high-def experience versus standard definition," he said. "We're now at the point where the industry can pursue the migration to a single format, bring clarity to the consumer, and accelerate the adoption of high-def."

Sarandos said that selection of one format is likely to bring down the cost of high-def DVD players and could secure discs as the consumer choice for movies for another decade.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing