While Disney has maintained a relatively low profile in the war of words between studios backing one or the other of the high-def disc formats, CEO Robert Iger spoke out in support of Blu-ray this week during the company's quarterly analyst call.
As the first studio head to successfully embrace the web (and iTunes in particular) as an alternative distribution vehicle for movie and TV-related content, Iger is credited by many in the industry as being the most aggressive among his peers when it comes to digital initiatives, so his comments (while obviously not unbiased) carry some added weight.
Asked whether he would consider releasing his company's product on HD DVD instead of exclusively on Blu-ray, Iger responded this way:
"We made our bed with Blu-ray because we believed more in that format for a variety of reasons; some technical in nature, some due to the fact that it simply had broader support from a variety of industries, notably the motion picture studios but also what I’ll call the consumer electronics and the tech industry.
What we are seeing lately is that sales of Blu-ray discs are outpacing HD discs by at least two to one. As more quality Blu-ray product comes on the market, which is going to happen, notably with Pirates on May 22, we actually believe that the difference or the advantage of Blu-ray is only going to widen.
What we are also seeing is that the adoption of the platform right now is being held back a bit by a perception among consumers, really, that there is a format war; and that the hardware or the players are too expensive. We see the players coming down in price nicely, particularly by the Christmas season. We also believe that if Blu-ray continues to outpace HD DVD the retailers are ultimately going to weigh in, because they only have a limited amount of shelf space, and they are going to have to choose a format in order to manage their own shelf space. Once that happens, the advantage is going to go even more in Blu-ray’s direction.
I think the single greatest thing we can do right now is to not waffle, but to be very, very blunt about it, to continue our support of Blu-ray because we sense a real advantage. The best thing that could happen is for the format war to end, which will be very pro-consumer, particularly as hardware comes down.
The other thing I want to note is, if you look across the globe, the only place there is really a format war is in the United States. In other markets where next-gen DVD is starting to penetrate, Blu-ray is winning, and substantially; so much so there isn’t even a perceived format war.
So I think we made the right decision, the trends we are seeing seem to validate the decision. We think long-term, this is going to be a nice growth area for the company, because as you know sell-through DVD is a big business for the Walt Disney Company, even though we believe in things like VOD and the rental model. People want to own a Disney DVD, particularly in the next-generation format."