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Why did Warner jump ship to Blu-ray?

by on15 January 2008

Was it a failure of TotalHD or $500 million?

Speculation is still rife over exactly why Warner went from a format agnostic stance to supporting only Blu-ray. Warner suggested in its press release that it had more to do with customer confusion in the market space and the fact that the Blu-ray was outselling HD DVD. What kind of “real” truth was there in this press release? Not as much as you might think, as insiders are saying that the die was already cast when the Warner proposed TotalHD format didn’t take off as expected.

TotalHD was a format proposed by Warner that was a double-sided disc that contained the HD DVD version of the movie on one side and the Blu-ray version of the movie on the other. According to rumors that we have been hearing, no one even remotely seemed interested in this format. Much of this may have had more to do with the difficulty in the replication of TotalHD discs than a complete rejection of the format. While the discs were difficult to manufacture, the rejection of this proposed solution in the format war was overlooked. When the other studios snubbed TotalHD, Warner was up in arms over what to do.

According to some reports, Warner was already stinging over the rejection of TotalHD, which would have netted additional income for Warner. We also continue to hear that the Blu-ray camp continued to tell Warner that they didn’t have anything against the TotalHD concept and that it was the HD DVD camp that didn’t want to see it happen. The Blu-ray camp is said to have used this fact in an effort to try not to appear to be the bad guy, saying that they would give Warner a reported $500 million to switch sides when their contract was up. We can only guess that Warner could not see the pot getting any sweeter and timing just seemed right for Warner to move to Blu-ray.

While Warner suggested that New Line and HBO would make their own decision as to if they would or would not support Warner’s move to Blu-ray, that was already a given. New Line and HBO are not going to disagree with their distributor over which direction they should be going. The idea that New Line and HBO were making their own decision was a fantasy. New Line and HBO were going to support whichever decision Warner was going to make.

So, there you have it from all of our sources…. Rejection and a large check are the reason that Warner split the HD DVD camp, according to our sources. Does the consumer really care? Well, that depends who you ask. The Blu-ray camp continues to count all of those PS3 units as the deciding factor as to why Blu-ray is more popular. We continue to say that most PS3 units that have been purchased are being used as game machines rather than as Blu-ray DVD players. The majority of gamers are not going out and purchasing Blu-ray movies to watch on their PS3s.

Still, with Warner’s decision, Blu-ray has access to over 70% of the available movie content and that alone is the real reason that it appears that Blu-ray is going to be successful. For sure, it has nothing to do about which format is better or more cost effective for the consumers.

Last modified on 15 January 2008
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