Home Media Magazine is reporting on high-def sales. For the week ending 8/26, BD had 68% of sales, 67% year to date, and 61% since inception. They also talk about the Venturer SHD7000 HD DVD player and give the $199 price point. There is also an article on a survey conducted by Warner, which shows that both formats have work to do. It showed 48% of respondents were indifferent to buying either Blu-ray or HD DVD. 31% citing price as a barrier, and 21% citing the format war. Among consumers with an HDTV, 58% said they don’t need and HD player, with 46% saying prices were too high and 23% saying they didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision. 27% said they were willing to wait out the format war for a winner before buying. Both sides need to educate consumers on the benefits of HD – but the format war isn’t helping at all.
For sales for the week ending 8/26, Blu-ray had 8 of the top 10 positions, with HD DVD the other 2 – and 1st place was 300 on BD, while 2nd was the HD DVD version. For aggregate high-def sales, 5 of the 10 are Blu-ray only, while the other 5 are available on both Blu-ray and HD DVD. There is also a high-def supplement with a number of articles on HD DVD and Blu-ray. Year-to-date through August 5th, out of the Top 20 high-def best sellers, BD has 16, while HD DVD has 4. And three of those are on the list under both formats (300 – BD #1, HD DVD #4, Planet Earth: Complete – BD #10, HD DVD #6, The Departed – BD #3, HD DVD #11). The 4th HD DVD title is Batman Begins (#14) , which is one of Warner’s titles not yet on BD. 300 sold 134,200 BD and 70,200 HD DVD – still roughly 2:1 BD. The Departed sold 73,300 BD and 43,000 HD DVD – not quite 2:1. And Planet Earth sold 52,900 HD DVD and 44,700 BD – pretty close.
On the aggregate Top 20 YTD eleven titles are BD only (numbers 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 18, 19, and 20) eight are dual-format (numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 14, 16, and 17), and only one is HD DVD only – Batman Begins (#13). Interesting only, on all of the top sellers lists, Universal failed to place at all. On the week ended 8/26, Paramount only placed due the Blu-ray releases of Shooter and Disturbia. On the YTD, Paramount failed to place at all on the individual list, and only placed on the aggregate list (at #17) with their dual-format Babel. It is pretty clear than BD sales have been stronger, dominating the top sellers lists, and neither Universal nor Paramount have really been major players to date. Even on the HD DVD Top 20 list Universal held six spots (6, 8, 12, 15, 16, and 18) and Paramount only two (14 & 20). Warner dominated the list with 11 slots – all the rest except #2, which went to BBC Video for Planet Earth! The real winner has been Warner, with 11 of the Top 20 HD DVD and 4 of the Top 20 BD released – including #1 and #3 on both lists – 300 and The Departed in both cases.
It is kind of freaky seeing the extensive coverage of holiday movies, since it is August – but it makes sense, this is aimed at industry and they have to start months in advance with orders, etc.
OK, moving on. Yesterday I mentioned that Acer had joined the BDA. Well, it looks like they’ve backed that up with the launch of a media center PC that incorporates Blu-ray. The Aspire iDea 520 is designed to fit into your entertainment center, with a layout more like an A/V component than a traditional PC. According to The Register:
At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin today, Acer announced the Aspire iDea 520, a media centre system with a slot-load Blu-ray Disc drive. The machine is based on a 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 and packs in 2GB of DDR 2 memory, a 500GB hard drive, an AMD ATI ‘M76M’ graphics chip with 512MB of video memory, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, and a digital/analogue TV tuner.
The iDea 520 is due to go on sale in Europe in October for â‚¬1999.
And speaking of IFA, Gizmodo was at the HD DVD press conference today. They really make it sound weak. No real new news, and no real rebuttals of the BDA’s claims at their press conference yesterday. They again trotted out the completely bogus ‘stats’ of“For every 2 ps3′s, one movie is sold. While 4 movies are bought for every [HD DVD] player” which is really dishonest. Yes, I’m sure it is factually correct. But you can’t count every PS3 as a BD player since not everyone who buys one will ever use it to watch movies, conversely you can’t not count it at all. It is simply an unknown since no one, except maybe Sony, has any idea what the split is. The HD DVD camp likes to include the PS3′s numbers when it makes HD DVD look good – as here with attach rates (how many movies sold per player), but they’ll exclude the PS3 when that makes them look good (total players sold). Such as when they said, in the same press conference“The hi def format is about stand alone consoles, not game machines.” It is bogus either way. (And yes, it is also bogus when the Blu-ray camp plays similar games.) Their big claim? That they have 70% of the European IT market. Not sure if that’s 70% of PCs sold with a high-def drive, or 70% of models with a high-def drive, or what. But either way, if that’s the best claim they can make – weak.
While I’m on HD DVD, EngadgetHD noticed a new HD DVD promotional site from Universal. It looks like they found it before it is fully baked – it hasn’t officially launched yet and a number of sections of the site don’t work yet. It also has auto-playing video with sound – lame. Something to keep an eye on for when they finish the site and launch it.
HD DVD isn’t the only format getting a black eye though, the BD camp gets one for Disney’s terrible framing on the Blu-ray Pirates of the Caribbean. See the link for screen-captures from the DVD and BD releases, showing the difference in how some scenes were framed in the transfer from film. The BD release cuts off more of the top of the frame, removing heads and the like in some scenes, while showing more of the bottom of the scene – which is generally not as meaningful. Nothing to do with the format itself, but it would be nice if Disney fixed that.
And, lastly, despite all the talk about BD and HD DVD – DVD isn’t dead yet. The Gadgetress is reporting on a new release from JVC – 8.5GB dual-layer DVD-RW discs. This bumps -RW to the capacity previously limited to DVD-ROM and DVD-R discs. The discs require burners that are compatible with the “DVD-RW for DL” specification, and support 2x writing on drives supporting Ver. 2.0 of the spec. The discs also have a hard coat which makes them 150 times more resistant to scratching than a standard DVD. JVC also issued a press release.