Online Retailers Soft Launch HD-DVD Disc Sales
Posted Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 01:30 PM PST by
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.