Seizing on widely reported January sales numbers from Neilsen VideoScan, a Sony executive said Friday that the studio plans to begin marketing Blu-ray as the winner of the high-def format war.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment worldwide president David Bishop made the comments to trade newspaper Video Business in reaction to widely reported Neilsen/VideoScan sales figures indicating that Blu-ray discs outsold HD DVD in January by a ratio of 2:1.
"The message that we’re going to put out to the consumer now is, now it is safe to make a choice," explained Bishop. "No more fence-sitting is needed... We have a critical mass of content, we have the biggest mass of consumer electronics companies in the world supporting this format. That has moved Blu-ray into the forefront."
Adding further credence to the previously-released VideoScan numbers, studio sources told Video Business that for the first three weeks of January, the top selling Blu-ray title ('Crank') sold 7,500 units, while the top selling HD DVD title ('Batman Begins') sold 4,100 units. In a business traditionally dominated by new release disc sales, 'Batman Begins' on HD DVD is something of an anomaly, as it was released back in November.
And yet while all agree that it was a strong month for Blu-ray, opinion is split on whether the surge in sales is an indicator of stronger user adaption of Blu-ray compared to HD DVD, or simply a reflection of the larger number of new Blu-ray titles that hit the market over the month -- 25 new Blu-ray titles were released in January, compared to just 11 titles on HD DVD for the same period.
One thing is for sure -- after months of playing the underdog to HD DVD, Blu-ray is now the format to beat. And with many more announced titles for Blu-ray in the coming months than there are announced titles for HD DVD, it doesn't look like this overall trend will reverse itself any time soon.
Expect the next round of mainstream punditry to come later this month with the release of the per-format sales figures for two of February's most eagerly anticipated dual format titles, 'Babel' and 'The Departed.' An apples-to-apples comparison of disc sales of the same title on both formats is expected to serve as a leading indicator of consumer acceptance for both HD DVD and Blu-ray.
As always, stay tuned...