Online Retailers Soft Launch HD-DVD Disc Sales

Posted Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 01:30 PM PST by
hd-dvd discs After numerous launch delays (and a high-profile false start), retailers are beginning to dip their toes in the HD-DVD waters again -- albeit gently -- reports Video Business. On Monday, major online merchants Amazon and Best Buy quietly placed Warner's first three disc offerings -- 'Million Dollar Baby,' 'Last Samurai' and 'Phantom of the Opera' -- up for pre-order in anticipation of their April 18 release date.

However, consumers will have to do some digging to find them. Though Amazon launched a dedicated HD-DVD store on its site earlier this month, as of this writing it doesn't provide access to pre-order the Warner titles -- customers must perform a manual search to find them among their standard DVD cousins. Finding HD-DVD product on BestBuy.com is even trickier, with the Warner discs mislabeled as standard DVD titles in their product search results.

"[The launch] keeps getting pushed back, so I don’t think we want to play our cards too early," one unnamed Amazon source told VB of the retailer's almost covert HD-DVD launch. "Usually, we would be talking about [a major new product] at this point, but we’re not. It’s a little odd."

So, how are they selling? Though Amazon and Best Buy don't release sales numbers, a look at Amazon's daily sales rankings for the three HD-DVD titles reveals a surprising leader -- despite grossing the least at the box office, 'Phantom' as of early Tuesday was higher-ranked than 'Baby' and 'Samurai,' hovering barely outside the top 1,000 selling DVD titles for the day. Though that hardly qualifies as blockbuster 'Harry Potter' numbers, it is a respectable ranking for the first releases on a format with no hardware players yet on the market.