Sony Says HD-DVD Sales Figures Stink

by Paul William Tenny

hddvd-bluray.jpgBut you know what they say about smelling something rotten, right? There's a bit of a petty dispute (usually born from ones own failings) over Paramount's sales figures from the HD-DVD edition of Transformers. The HD-DVD backer claims they've sold 190,000 units in the first week but Sony is having none of it, taking the opportunity to slap Paramount around as dishonest and desperate because they believe HD-DVD is losing the high-def format war.

Unfortunately, Sony has credibility problems of their own.
Sony has some big brass balls to call out Paramount for stretching figures on HD-DVD disc sales when you remember that Sony's Blu-Ray is only winning in market share for stand-alone players because they forcefully added Blu-Ray to every PS3 unit whether consumers wanted it or not, and based on industry figures, the number of people that actually use the PS3 to play Blu-Ray movies is somewhere in the 30% range or less.

First of all, if you only compare stand-alone units that are actually high-def DVD players, HD-DVD has sold more units than Blu-Ray. Second if you compare the number of discs sold, HD-DVD just pulled ahead of Blu-Ray in that category as well. Don't forget that HD-DVD players cost half what Blu-Ray players do, as well.

As George Ou of Zdnet/Tech Republic has pointed out, the only battle Blu-Ray wins is when you throw in PS3 sales which gives Sony a huge advantage over Blu-Ray capable playing devices sold, and putting those drives into the PS3 model cost Sony dearly.

HD DVD with its first-to-market and less expensive $500 players entered the market and took the early lead while Blu-ray players came out a little later at a staggering cost close to $1000. But Sony dumped the PlayStation 3 on the market at a staggering loss of $2 billion dollars and changed the tide of war.

But just when we thought it was over, Paramount and DreamWorks this week declared their exclusive support for HD DVD. The Blu-ray camp is crying foul that the HD DVD forum is providing $150 million dollars in incentives to get this exclusive deal but that’s really peanuts compared to the PlayStation 3 being dumped on the market at a $2B loss. Transformers director Michael Bay even threw a tantrum in a late-night forum posting threatening not to make a second Transformers movie if he can’t get Transformers on both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats. But Bay apologized the next day in another forum post that he “drank the kool aid hook line and sinker” from three Blu-ray owners and that he over reacted. Bay now seems to have a change of heart after he heard HD DVD players will soon come close to the magical $200 mark ($299 is the current lowest price).

So if you happen to have read this at Deadline Hollywood over this latest pissing contest, keep in mind that when you ignore the PS3 which hardly anybody uses to watch Blu-Ray movies, that:

  • HD-DVD players cost far less.
  • HD-DVD titles are out-selling Blu-Ray now.
  • There are more dedicated HD-DVD stand-alone players in peoples homes that Blu-Ray.
War? What war?

Honestly though, I don't remember who made this point and I don't have a link, but I remember this vividly and it's worth considering: compared to standard definition DVD sales, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray combined are a drop in the bucket. Here Paramount and Sony are throwing mud at each other over 190,000 units sold in a single week, as if that were a big deal. I've read that standard-def sales of Happy Feet were in the millions, I think in the tens of millions in its first week on sale.

At that time, the story said that standard-def Happy Feet had outsold every high-def title ever released. That's every high-def title from each camp, from the first day right up until the day the story was published. So this is pretty much exactly what industry analysts warned would happen if Sony and the HD-DVD guys didn't unify their format: sales would suffer horribly and nobody would buy into the market until a single format won out.

All those sales of high-def television sets are being driven entirely by high-def satellite and cable - not DVDs. What's truly pathetic is that we're still dealing with the ramification of this age-old fight today. Ever wonder what the difference between DVD-R and DVD+R is? A format war that was never settled. It held the DVD technology back for years and the only reason you can use both discs for the most part today is because you own a dual-format player, not because the fight was ever settled.

Three cheers for corporate greed and dick waving.
in Digital Media


Related posts:

Leave a comment

View more stories by visiting the archives.

Media Pundit categories