In a surprise leak of what could well turn out to be the biggest high-def news to come out of this year's CES, The New York Times is reporting that Warner Home Video is set to bring the first Blu-ray/HD DVD hybrid discs to market in 2007.
According to the story, the studio is hoping to both calm consumers' fears over the competing next-gen formats as well as spur high-def hardware sales by creating a Blu-ray/HD DVD hybrid, which the studio is dubbing a "Total HD" disc.
In an exclusive pre-CES interview with the Times, Barry M. Meyer, the chairman and chief executive of Warner Brothers, claims the studio created the idea of Total HD as it became apparent that while neither the Blu-ray or HD DVD formats would be going away anytime soon, continued consumer reluctance to invest in rival technologies could stall the widespread adoption of high-definition.
“The next best thing is to recognize that there will be two formats, and to make that not a negative for the consumer," said Meyer. "We [Warner] felt that the most significant constituency for us to satisfy was the consumer first, and the retailer second. The retailer wants to sell hardware and doesn't want to be forced into stocking two formats for everything. This is ideal for them."
If Warner is able to sucessfully produce and distribute a dual-format hybrid disc, it would certainly add an unexpected -- and potentially tremendous -- new wrinkle to the high-def format war. A reasonably priced one-disc-fits-all scenario would seem to please everyone, from early adopters to hardware manufacturers to retailers (who no would no longer have to stock both Blu-ray and HD DVD versions of the same title), regardless of which format they support.
A formal announcement from Warner officially unveiling Total HD is now expected sometime during or right after CES. We'll certainly keep you posted as this exciting story continues to develop. Stay tuned!