Battle For DVD Format Unfolds

The schism that spans the next generation of DVD technology is widening, as
film studio Paramount Home Entertainment said it would embrace the Blu-ray
format backed by a group led by Sony.


Viacom-owned Paramount previously said it would release titles in a
competing DVD format called HD DVD, which is backed by a group led by
Toshiba.


But the allure of the Blu-ray proved too much to ignore.


Paramount Pictures President Thomas Lesinski said in a statement that
Paramount has been “intrigued by the broad support of Blu-ray, especially
the key advantage of including Blu-Ray in PlayStation 3.”


“After more detailed assessment and new data on cost, manufacturability and
copy protection solutions, we have now made the decision to move ahead with
the Blu-ray format,” Lesinksi said. “We believe the unique portfolio of
Viacom content coupled with this format will provide great benefit for
consumers and our shareholders alike.”


Paramount did not address the HD DVD format in the statement, which means it
could easily support both standards in what is shaping up to be a fierce
battle between two factions championing different technologies that improve
the viewing quality of TV for consumers.


Toshiba, which had earlier this year failed to find a way to unify the
competing formats after working with rival Sony, released a statement citing
press reports that Paramount Home Entertainment will continue to support HD
DVD.


While Toshiba acknowledged that studios like Paramount want to support all
potential markets for their products, the Japanese giant said Paramount’s
continued support of HD DVD proves the Viacom business recognizes certain
advantages with HD DVD, such as a faster time to market, greater capacity,
lower expected price.


“However, once HD DVD comes to market at the end of 2005 in Japan, and early
next year in the United States as planned, it will not take long to know
which format really delivers the benefits of high definition to the
consumer,” Toshiba said in a statement.


Film studios are pretty split now with regard to the opposing technologies,
which promise the ability to play films and other content with much more
clarity.


Paramount joins Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Co. and
Twentieth Century Fox in backing Blu-ray. Universal Studios and Warner Bros.
Studios have endorsed HD DVD.


The news comes less than a week after Microsoft and Intel announced their support for HD DVD in opposition to Sony and other Blu-ray
supporters.


Blu-Ray and HD DVD use blue lasers, which have a shorter wavelength than the
red lasers used in current DVD players. This allows discs to store data at
the higher densities needed for high-definition TV.

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