Report: Warner Takes Centerstage in High-Def Format War

Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007 at 10:56 AM PST

A new BusinessWeek article focuses on the efforts of major players on both sides of the format war to woo dual-format supporting studio Warner Bros to their side exclusively.

According to the article, Warner has stepped up discussions with backers of both formats since late summer, with Sony CEO Howard Stringer reportedly making personal appeals to Richard Parsons and Jeffrey Bewkes, the two top executives at Warner parent Time Warner.

If Warner were to move to one side of the aisle, it could drastically change the shape of the format war. A Warner move to Blu-ray exclusivity would give that format an exclusive 70% share of the DVD market, while a move to HD DVD would give both formats more or less equal shares.

For its part, Warner itself isn't talking, although widely reported comments made by Warner VP Dan Silverberg in late October appeared to back up reports that the studio is indeed considering dropping its format agnostic stance.

"When both formats launched and hardware prices were high, we made a decision to support both formats and let the consumer decide," said Silverberg. "But now that hardware pricing is affordable for both Blu-ray and HD DVD, it appears consumers no longer want to decide — so the notion of staying in two formats for the duration is something we are re-evaluating now that we are in the fourth quarter."

Athough insiders give Blu-ray the advantage, according to unnamed studio sources quoted by BusinessWeek, Warner is waiting to see which format sells more this holiday before making its decision. "Warner wants one of the two sides to make a commitment to getting this format into as many hands as possible," said the source.

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