HD-DVD to Hit Market With 'Soft Launch'

Posted Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 07:22 PM PDT by
Toshiba HD-DVD Player Despite months of hype and anticipation, HD-DVD will be practically tiptoeing into stores when the format's first players and discs hit the market April 18.

Video Business reports that initial projections for player and disc title deliveries will be relatively soft for a major format introduction. Due in stores Tuesday, industry sources place shipments of Toshiba's first two HD-DVD players as between 10,000 and 15,000 units. The two studios currently supporting the players with new titles, Warner and Universal, are expected to ship between 7,000 and 10,000 copies apiece of their initial HD-DVD disc offerings.

Initial consumer marketing for the format is also subdued. Toshiba will kick off a nationwide TV ad campaign on HDTV channels beginning next week, with themed "So Real You Can Feel It" TV spots. VB also reports that chain Ultimate Electronics will promote the first HD-DVD disc titles via an April 16 promotional circular; though other retailers remain mum on any marketing plans.

Given the limited quantity of available HD-DVD players and discs, the industry remains cautiously optimistic about initial consumer reaction to the first next-gen format out of the gate.

"It’s the old beta versus VHS dilemma," said Shane Evangelist, senior vp of Blockbuster, which like most retailers is planning to support both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. "There’s no way to know how long it’s going to take for the general market to decide which formats will ultimately prevail. So while this shakes out, we’re just going to listen to our customers and make sure we give them the movies they want in the format they prefer -- whatever the technology."
Tags: Warner, Universal, Toshiba, Hardware (all tags)