Netflix Goes Blu-Ray Exclusive

Another nail in the coffin of the format war: top DVD rental service Netflix has announced that they will be going Blu-Ray exclusive.

The company says that the industry has “picked a winner” in the format face-off and will phase out HDDVD by the end of the year.

From Netflix:

“The prolonged period of competition between two formats has prevented clear communication to the consumer regarding the richness of the high-def experience versus standard definition,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. “We’re now at the point where the industry can pursue the migration to a single format, bring clarity to the consumer and accelerate the adoption of high-def. Going forward, we expect that all of the studios will publish in the Blu-ray format and that the price points of high-def DVD players will come down significantly. These factors could well lead to another decade of disc-based movie watching as the consumer’s preferred means.”

“From the Netflix perspective, focusing on one format will enable us to create the best experience for subscribers who want high- definition to be an important part of how they enjoy our service.”

Sorry, HDDVD. Things aren’t looking too good.

Friend of the blog, film critic Phil Villarreal of the Arizona Star, got the following email from Netflix:

Dear Phil,

You’re receiving this email because you have asked to receive high-definition movies in the HD DVD format. As you may have heard, most of the major movie studios have recently decided to release their high-definition movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. In order to provide the best selection of high-definition titles for our members, we have decided to go exclusively with Blu-ray as well.

While we will continue to make our current selection of HD DVD titles available to you for the next several months, we will not be adding additional HD DVD titles or reordering replacements.

Toward the end of February, HD DVDs in your Saved Queue will automatically be changed to standard definition DVDs. Then toward the end of this year, all HD DVDs in your Queue will be changed to standard definition DVDs. Don’t worry, we will contact you before this happens.

You can click here to change your format preferences.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please call us at 1 (888) 638-3549.

-The Netflix Team

Netflix, Citing a Clear Signal From the Industry, Will Carry High-Def DVDs Only in Blu-ray Format (Press Release) [Netflix]
The death blow for HD DVD? [PhilmGuy]
(Photo:Marike79)

PREVIOUSLY: Why Don’t You Weigh In On The Format War?

Comments

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  1. mthrndr says:

    As long as they keep adding Watch Now titles, I’m good.

  2. Bladefist says:

    Actually the clear winner is still DVD. Until players and the movies come down, I’ll be buying dvds. At walmart you can get good movies in the $5.50 bin, and great movies for 14$. When it becomes that price, I’ll think about it.

  3. MFfan310 says:

    First, Warner. Now, Netflix. What’s next, Bext Buy dropping HD DVD?

    Still, I wanted Blu-ray to win this war anyway… it’s probably curtains for the technologically inferior HD DVD format (Blu-ray can go up to 200 GB, HD DVD is only capable up to 51 GB). So much for Universal’s Ken Graffeo and his “the war has just begun” BS…

  4. privatejoker75 says:

    Best Buy endorses Blu Ray then i choose HD-DVD

  5. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @MFfan310:

    Well, not dropping, but getting there…
    [arstechnica.com]

  6. snazz says:

    perhaps now that a ‘winner has been chosen’ the pricing on blu-ray will come down and make them a viable option. remember when DVD first came out and they were all $29.99 or higher? no one said they would buy them at that price and VHS would still live on….

  7. DeltaPurser says:

    I’m not going to worry about it until the players come down in price… $400 for a glorified DVD player is, in my opinion, not a smart investment.

  8. Coder4Life says:

    Glad I dropped them last week. Time to sell the hd dvd player.

    best buy is also droppign hd-dvd recommendation.

  9. surewriting says:

    Sweet…more $1 DVDs at my local grocery store

  10. kelptocratic says:

    I am very, very pissed off about this. You’re telling my I can’t rent them anymore? For reals? What, are they going to fucking incinerate all their HD-DVD stock? Bullshit, Netflix, utter bullshit. Fail.

    Yeah, I’m sure I’ll end up with a PS3 sometime this year, but for chrissake man!

  11. snoop-blog says:

    yes!!!!!!

  12. snoop-blog says:

    @kelptocratic: rtfa before you flip out. if you would have you would know that they are just not buying anymore hd-dvd’s, and all hd-dvd’s in your queue are going to be just standard dvds

  13. Bladefist says:

    people are missing the point. you are buying a movie. not a disc. I guess im getting old, because I just dont see the sense in spending all that money for increased pixels. If it was phased in where it was all compatible, and you never noticed the price change, I’d be all for it. But going out and spending money to see the same crap w/ more pixels, i dont get

  14. spinachdip says:

    Ha, so much for the “VHS won the format war because of porn, therefore HD-DVD will win” argument. Not that it matters to me until I have a decent TV in the house.

    Of course, this format war would be all for moot if download rentals become the norm, though I doubt that would happen unless the price drops and the industry drops the crazy 24-hour viewing window.

  15. boandmichele says:

    glad i have a few massive hard drives, so i dont have to worry about getting screwed by sony in this format war.

  16. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @kelptocratic:

    They just aren’t going to replenish their stock anymore. Disks get lost/damaged/etc, which means Netflix needs to replace them. They’re saying they won’t be buying anymore, so you’ll still be able to rent them until their stock is depleted.

  17. meneye says:

    @Bladefist: you’ve obviously never watched HDTV or are completely blind.

  18. Smackdown says:

    Yay! All my stupid friends with 360s who mocked me for buying a PS3 WILL SUFFER!

  19. magic8ball says:

    So did Neflix get paid to make this their format of choice?

  20. I was going to suspend my account for a month or two while I move anyways, might as well use this as a reason now.

    I don’t have a player for either, but I do think they should offer both formats.

  21. wereroki says:

    I hate the idea of download rentals cause i like to own my media in a physical form.

  22. Erwos says:

    I don’t get the reasoning. If they were interested in providing the best experience for their customers, wouldn’t they stock both?

    I don’t get why the Consumerist isn’t outraged. This is just another example of a company picking a winner in the format war to the consumer’s detriment.

  23. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @Erwos:

    You’re right. Netflix is picking the winner, but in this case they are cutting their losses because Blu-Ray had won before Netflix made this decision.

  24. kelptocratic says:

    @snoop-blog: “all hd-dvd’s in your queue are going to be just standard dvds”

    And what the hell does that mean? So I can rent them? Or are they referring to those which have yet to be released? The ones they won’t restock/don’t have/loose? Unclear much?

    @Erwos: I concur.

  25. Logan26 says:

    Not sure waht pricing you are referring to, but I was at Wallyworld last night and all current BR content including new was under 25 bucks. box sets being the exception.

  26. spinachdip says:

    @Erwos: My guess is that the vast majority of consumers wanted no part in a format war and the sooner it was over, the better. Most signs were pointing to Blue Ray as the winner anyway and early adopters were fully aware that their format could very well lose out, right?

  27. cindel says:

    I don’t have a dvd player. I watched all my dvd on my laptop. What does this mean for me?

  28. Techguy1138 says:

    @magic8ball: I doubt it. Right now the format war looks like it is going strongly BD’s way.

    Most people here fret about buying a $25 hd-dvd. Imagine buying $10,000,000 worth of HD content. You want it to make you money over the next 2-5 years at least.

    For them having to stock up on two formats knowing that only one will survive was a poor business decision.

    Hopefully the service improves on BD-rentals.

  29. Erwos says:

    @spinachdip: Yes, and HD-DVD was _clearly_ the better format for consumer’s rights when it came to DRM. It blows my mind that anyone could be cheering for BR-D’s “victory” on this particular blog.

    I don’t own either, to be clear.

  30. spinachdip says:

    @Erwos: I guess what I’m trying to say is that
    a) Netflix shouldn’t have been in the format war to begin with and stuck with regular DVDs until the dust settled, and
    b) Netflix didn’t pick the winner; the winner was already picked. Netflix is the weather vane, not the wind, if you will.

    Honestly, I don’t know enough about either format to go one way or the other, but I think the cheering isn’t so much for one side as it is for the end of the war, which in my mind is more anti-consumerist than either format.

    I’m perfectly happy with DVDs and the eventual winner was always going to have to be backwards compatible.

  31. mac-phisto says:

    @meneye: i’ve watched both & i’m not completely blind. there is a discernible difference between the two formats, but it is more noticeable in movies shot in hd (as opposed to “remastered” or “upscaled” titles). after watching a few of these side-by-side, i was hardly impressed.

    so my free advice would be to save cash on older dvd titles & prepare to spend $30 on blu-ray for new ones for awhile (we all know how well sony does with price drops).

  32. rb1971 - E39M5'er says:

    I have been on the fence about whether to cancel Netflix for a couple of months, so this seals the deal. I am lucky enough to have a very high speed Internet connection at my residence, so I am definitely moving to downloadable movies – in my case, likely over AppleTV.

  33. h0mi says:

    Glad I still use blockbuster online. I’d cancel with netflix if I had a subscription to it (and I’m “purple”). The marketplace would just as easily have made it difficult to rent hd-dvds because so few are being produced. So when iron man is released on HD-DVD, netflix owners can’t rent it. Bad move.

  34. azntg says:

    My speculation: After a couple of failed format wars, Sony didn’t want to trust customers to pad their profits anymore. They decided to work from in the inside out… pay off the companies and then buy out the customers.

  35. Dancing Milkcarton says:

    @azntg: That’s not speculation, that’s fact. That’s the way things have always happened. Where’ve you been?

  36. dheddings says:

    I’m pissed at Netflix. I resisted their marketing ploys for years but caved last month (2 kids at home makes it difficult to get to the movies) and selected HDDVD as my preference. JUST bought an HDDVD player last frickin’ week! Feel like an idiot but the BluRay players were so much more expensive. Bye bye Netflix.

  37. mechanismatic says:

    @h0mi: Apparently you fail to grasp that the number of HD and Blu-Ray consumers out there is still just a blip on the radar right now. Iron Man and any other HD or Blu-Ray title will be available in regular DVD format for some time to come. That’s the format that most of Netflix’s users have.

  38. Buran says:

    @privatejoker75: Have fun with your doorstop that can’t view any of the hi-def releases 2 years from now … I personally didn’t care which format won and held off buying a player until a clear winner showed up (bought a PS3 on Friday) but at this point buying HD-DVD is nothing more than a waste of money and an extremely ill-advised stunt.

  39. Buran says:

    @dheddings: Pays to do your research before a big purchase…

  40. Techguy1138 says:

    @Erwos:

    You are incorrect. Both BD and HD-DVD used the same drm.

    By choosing to use drm, ripping disks is an offense punishable under the DMCA. This is NOT consumer friendly.

    This is like saying Best Buy is more consumer friendly than Circuit City because they have crappy locks on their stockroom.

  41. StevieD says:

    @Bladefist:

    Thank goodness for the WallyWorld discount bin. I love older movies and I am cheap. Perfect combination.

  42. chutch says:

    I rent from Netflix and also own both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray (PS3). While I’m not thrilled to see HD-DVD on the outs (as far as Netflix goes), I agree entirely with the business decision behind this. The money going into a format that you are fairly sure will soon be gone is just flat out wasted.

    My advice to everyone with an HD-DVD player is to sit back, enjoy the rentals while you still can – and then really enjoy the Netflix HD-DVD sale that is sure to happen before the end of the year. I’m confident you’ll be able to find a lot of HD-DVD sales before the year is over at many rental and retail companies.

    As far as being stuck with a Betamax player – you’re still sitting on a player that is fairly decent at upconverting your regular grade DVDs to make them look better than normal. The sales and upconversion abilities are the main reasons I’m not dumping my player in the first eBay auction I can find.

  43. goodkitty says:

    Everyone seems to be skipping over a very big part of this… this isn’t about Red or Blue… this means that you will not be able to rent high-definition copies of ANY Paramount or Universal titles from Netflix. No Transformers, no Star Trek, no BSG. Netflix basically just said, “hey you know what, we’re not going to stock 20% of movies out there because the other 80% covers most of it.”

    Why aren’t people upset about this more than e-peen debates about which format is better? I don’t have a preference but having Netflix shut down HD rentals from two major studios is beyond weird. I think I’m going to actually cut my plan down over this for a while, as a kind of partial boycott.

    The only way this would make sense is if they have insider knowledge that those other two studio holdouts are going to switch soon also.

  44. mechanismatic says:

    @goodkitty: HD and Blu-Ray discs are probably like 3% of Netflix’s stock, so that 20% of the High Def content isn’t a sizeable loss. Once HD goes down, the remaining hold outs will switch to Blu-Ray if they know what is financially good for them. For Netflix, Paramount, or Universal to keep putting money into a losing format is financially stupid. Once again, early adopters are getting burned.

  45. mikelotus says:

    @goodkitty:
    they will knuckle under soon enough thankfully.

    @cindel:
    it means that the computer companies can now clearly go where they want to go, to blu-ray. Sony’s are already there, Lenovo is ready to go there and the rest will be quick to follow. Blu-ray’s capacity is huge for the computer industry. And DVD’s where never meant to be used for data storage, which is why writable DVDs are kind of bogus and had so many problems to start with and still are flaky.

  46. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Remember kiddies…there would be no ‘format war’ if it weren’t for our ‘friends’ at Sony.
    Do you need any other reason to hate BluRay? OOOO!! It has the more ‘MPAA-friendly’ DRM!

    You’re buying the disc, but you don’t own the content.
    Much like a 2 liter soda. How many of them have you bought in your life? You still have the contents of how many? :)

  47. Dibbler says:

    @snazz:

    I don’t remember DVDs being $30. I remember them being $15 and VHS was around $10. It was the players that were high. The DVD manufacturers had a minimum price of $300 for a long time.

  48. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @doctor_cos:

    Sony may be to blame, but the HD-DVD cartel (Toshiba, Microsoft, etc) shares that blame equally.

  49. methane says:

    @Techguy1138: You’re correct. They both use the same DRM. However, some research shows that Blu-ray REQUIRES DRM on the disc, whereas the HD-DVD format makes it optional. Also HD-DVD have (so-far) not had any region coding on them which means that if you buy an HD-DVD anywhere, it will play for you at home.

    And for everyone cheering a Sony victory… seriously? SERIOUSLY?

  50. vliam says:

    As a owner of both formats, I’m not thrilled but I certainly understand their decision. I’ve started to cut my losses by no longer buying HD-DVDs also. I was hoping to fill the gap with Netflix rentals but, apparently, that’s not going to happen.

    I just don’t understand the persons that tout the HD-DVD as the more “consumer-friendly” folks. Both formats are DRM’d to death. The move by Toshiba and Co. to continue this format war seems particularly unfriendly to consumers.

  51. Shadowman615 says:

    @dheddings: Um, you bought an HDDVD player last week? It’s been well know that HD-DVD had pretty much lost the format war for over a month now, since WB decided to switch over.

    Well, maybe it hadn’t been lost completely, but I certainly wouldn’t have made such a purchase. Netflix was just the next inevitable step.

  52. firesign says:

    @doctor_cos: technically, you never have owned the content on any pre-recorded media. you are granted a license for non-commercial use. you don’t own the content anymore than you actually own the contents of a book.

    personally, i didn’t care which side won as long as the stupid “war” was over. the toshiba cartel (which includes microsoft) is no better than the sony cartel.

  53. firesign says:

    @dheddings: and bye bye getting anything new for your hd-dvd player within a few months anywhere. better stock up now on what there is. pays to do some research before a purchase, it’s not like this is anything new. the players are so much cheaper becuase places are trying to unload them,just like they did with betamax vcrs. don’t blame netflix, blame your own ignorance.

  54. sharki3232 says:

    I got an HD-DVD player for Christmas, I thought the huge drop in price and the free HD-DVD’s offered would motivate more consumer to buy the format. Blew that call.

    The problem was Toeshiba’s marketing, or lack there of. They never really made an attmept to sell the format to the consumer. The only place I ever saw ads for HD-DVD were in movie theaters. It’s almost as if Toeshiba thought consumers would buy the format just because it existed.