Blockbuster on Monday put its weight behind Sony Corp.’s Blu-ray DVD format, as the No. 1 video rental chain said it would boost its inventory of the high-definition discs to 1,700 stores by mid-July.
Blockbuster said Blu-ray has proven to be more popular with its customers than HD DVD, the competing high-definition format. The company will continue to offer both Blu-ray and rival HD-DVD titles through its online rental service.
Of some 8,000 stores worldwide, about 250 of them carry both formats, and Blu-ray rentals are “significantly outpacing HD DVD rentals,” the company said in a statement.
Blockbuster rivals such as Movie Gallery Inc. and online rental company Netflix Inc. also offer both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats.
Blu-ray’s high-definition digital technology, backed by Sony Corp., offers crisper pictures and more room for special features than current DVDs. The format competes with HD-DVD, which is backed by Toshiba Corp. and offers somewhat lower storage capacity, but claims cheaper production of players, burners and discs.
Measured in the number of players, Blu-ray is already well ahead of HD DVD because Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console comes with a built-in Blu-ray player.
Hollywood and electronics manufacturers hope new high-definition DVDs, with better picture quality and more capacity, will rejuvenate the slowing $24 billion home DVD market.
But the war between HD DVD and Blu-ray — also supported by companies such as Samsung, Philips, Matsushita, Apple and Dell — has curbed adoption of the new formats, amid fears that some consumers will end up with an obsolete player.
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