Hi-Def DVDs Taking Off

One of the big questions about the high definition DVD format wars between HD DVD and Blu-ray is this: Does anyone really care? Are consumers really ready to replace their existing DVD players and libraries with expensive high definition players? Well, it appears that a lot of people are headed in that direction.

Yesterday, Warner Home Video reported that the company sold more than 250,000 high definition copies of the movie “300” in the first week of the title’s sales. Warner claims that this is the fastest and best-selling high definition title, which is available in both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats.

Some analysts point to the rapid drop in player prices in recent months as a factor in the increased interest in high definition DVDs. I suspect that something else may be at work, at least with this title. The target audience for “300” appears to closely overlap that for the Sony Playstation 3, which is also a Blu-ray player. According to some sources, Sony has sold more than 1.3 million PS3s in the US so far, so it would not take much penetration into this installed base to have a big impact on the sales for “300”.

While 250,000 sounds like a lot of copies, it’s small potatoes compared with standard DVD sales. “Happy Feet” reportedly sold 8.6 million copies in the first half of this year, and “Night at the Museum” sold 6.6 million. There are not enough high definition players installed in this country to come close to those figures. So for now, the answer to “Who cares?” remains “It doesn’t matter, yet.” Stay tuned.