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HD DVD disc sales figures: Blu-ray gets really cross

There's a format war on you know, and in any good war the propaganda machine has to get rolling. Today, HD DVD annoys Blu-ray with some sales stats

In the latest skirmish in the hi-def format war, the HD DVD promotion group announced on Monday that in Europe, HD DVD is the king of the 'attach rate' -- the average number of discs each person buys for their player. The headline number was that HD DVD owners are buying, on average, 3.8 movies each, with Blu-ray owners buying just 0.6 discs each.

Unfortunately, as exciting as these figures might appear to HD DVD supporters, there's no mention of how the figures were arrived at. For a start, the HD DVD group routinely refuses to include the PlayStation 3 as a Blu-ray player, claiming most people don't buy the PS3 to watch movies on.

These attach-rate figures, however, are almost certain to include the PS3, thus making HD DVD look better, but making it appear Blu-ray discs aren't selling. Nothing could be further from the truth, because Blu-ray is still outselling HD DVD in terms of number of discs shipped.

All of this has made Frank Simonis of the Blu-ray group very angry indeed. In an interview with he vented his spleen saying, "The HD DVD Group have manipulated the GfK data." He went on to say, "Honest to God, the Blu-ray Disc Association would never do this. We've seen so much rubbish come from the HD DVD Group it's unbelievable." Which gave us a good chuckle, because barely a week goes by without the BDA or one of its members making some outlandish claim that Blu-ray has won the format war or will win it at some point soon.

The fact of the matter is that whoever releases numbers of units sold has a motive for doing so. The only figures you can rely on are those that are totally independent, which is one of the reasons the Amazon sales rank has become such an interesting way of measuring how the different formats are doing.

The full figures for the UK, as claimed by the HD DVD group, are 3.7 movies on HD DVD versus 0.8 on Blu-ray. The biggest HD DVD market is France, where 5 discs were sold per player on HD DVD and 0.6 on Blu-ray. However you look at it, HD DVD is enjoying some success at the moment, even if it is manipulating the figures. -Ian Morris