As the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD race was looking more and more like a stalemate, Warner Bros. has spiced things up by announcing exclusive support for Sony's Blu-ray format. As Variety reports, the decision effectively signs the death warrant for HD DVD, since Warner has the lion's share of the home video business. Because of the announcement, HD DVD backers Microsoft, Toshiba, and Universal have canceled a promotional appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show on Sunday.
Warner plans to continue to support HD DVD until May 31, 2008, at which point only Universal and Paramount will still release HD DVD movies. Sony, Fox, Disney, and Lionsgate have already opted to back Blu-ray exclusively. Warner cites a desire to alleviate customer confusion surrounding high-definition video formats as one of the key reasons behind its choice. "The price impediment was going away, but the take-up wasn't increasing that much," Variety quotes Warner Home Entertainment President Kevin Tsujihara as saying. "The research was making it pretty clear there was still a tremendous amount of confusion among consumers."
Tsujihara also talked down the importance of possible financial incentives from the Blu-ray camp by pointing to the sheer size of the $42 billion DVD business and asserting, "This was not a bidding war." According to Tsujihara, the cost of supporting both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats was not the principal motivation behind Warner's move, either.