Blockbuster says it will expand its high-def disc rental program by 1,450 stores in July, but in a blow to the HD DVD camp, each of the new stores will only carry Blu-ray.
The nation's largest video chain began renting both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs in 250 stores in late 2006, but it says it has found that its customers have chosen Blu-ray titles more than 70 percent of the time.
"The consumers are sending us a message. I can't ignore what I'm seeing," Matthew Smith, senior vice president of merchandising at Blockbuster told the AP.
While the company will continue to rent HD DVD discs in the original 250 stores and via its online rental service, its July expansion to 1,450 additional stores will see the rentailer go Blu-ray only.
Blockbuster told the Associated Press that the decision was helped in large part by the lopsided availability of titles in Blu-ray. "When you walk into a store and see all this product available in Blu-ray and there is less available on HD DVD, I think the consumer gets that," Smith said.
The HD DVD Promotional Group called Blockbuster's decision "shortsighted," and attributed Blu-ray's performance at Blockbuster to that format's stronger release slate in the first three months of 2007.
"I think trying to make a format decision using such a short time period is really not measuring what the consumer is saying," said Ken Graffeo, co-president of the group.