Just when you thought the next-gen DVD war was on the verge of being over, a couple of studios decide to muck things up even further. Today, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation announced that they will exclusively support HD DVD on a worldwide basis.
According to the press release, "The exclusive HD DVD commitment will include all movies distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films, as well as movies from DreamWorks Animation, which are distributed exclusively by Paramount Home Entertainment."
"The companies each said that the decision to distribute exclusively in the HD DVD format resulted from an extensive evaluation of current market offerings, which confirmed the clear benefits of HD DVD, particularly its market-ready technology and lower manufacturing costs. Paramount Home Entertainment will launch its exclusive HD DVD program with the release of the blockbuster comedy hit 'Blades of Glory' on August 28th and follow with two of the biggest grossing movies of the year 'Transformers' and 'Shrek the Third'."
Until today, Paramount was putting out movies on both Blu-ray and HD DVD, so needless to say, the announcement came as a surprise. Also, all of this comes in the face of reports that on the software front, Blu-ray was outselling HD DVD by a 2-1 margin, and that both Blockbuster and Target would be pushing the Blu-ray format in stores. (Note HD DVD fans: Yes, Target will continue to carry the XBox 360's add-on HD DVD player). Consensus was that things were looking pretty bleak for HD DVD. Is this a game changer?
In the short term, probably. The move clearly prolongs the war for at least another year, which means I get to write at least another six columns on the topic. Was money a factor? Is someone getting paid off? I don't know, but no one makes these types of decisions without an economic incentive. What do you think? Is this good for the consumer or will such announcements just continue to slow the adoption rate for either format?
Update 08/21: Blu-ray camp fires back at latest HD DVD announcements.