HD DVD Bets Big On Super Bowl Ad… Yeah, That'll Do It

from the great-moments-in-wasting-money dept

In the biggest standards battle most people couldn’t care less about, most folks are assuming that Blu-ray has finally won the battle. However, the HD DVD folks aren’t totally giving up yet. After hanging their heads and canceling a party and press conference at CES, it appears that Toshiba believes the way to revive interest in the HD DVD standard is… to spend $2.7 million on a Superbowl ad. As if that’s going to make a difference. It brings to mind various dot com startups from the last bubble who put their entire marketing budget into a Super Bowl ad. In the meantime, it may be time to start watching HD DVD’s other backers. Microsoft still insists it’s strongly behind HD DVD but have opened the door to finally giving it up. Meanwhile, Intel has a long history of jumping ship after it realizes it backed the wrong horse in various standards battles. The company seems to have learned when to cash out and move on. Last year it moved closer to that position by supporting both standards (while still officially backing HD DVD). If the trend keeps moving towards Blu-ray, then expect to see Intel jump more fully to the other camp. Now, if only this had been worked out four years ago, before people had moved on to online video. Blu-ray can still do well, but it missed its biggest opportunity to take over the market a few years ago.

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Companies: intel, microsoft, toshiba

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Comments on “HD DVD Bets Big On Super Bowl Ad… Yeah, That'll Do It”

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dualboot says:

Not quite...

Superbowl marketing campaigns have been highly successful for many companies, provided the rest of then business structure is well-organized. I would love to provide some data along those lines, but am not sure where the client privilege line ends. (I used to work in advertising)

Also, I have known Very few people (none actually) who have purchased a blueray player, but several who have HD DVD players. So I would say the jury’s still out over the standard… at least in my community. Do your have hard data that shows one standard is winning, or are you inferring this from the multi-platform support? Keep in mind, Microsoft lost in an anti-trust lawsuit for installing only their browser with operating systems… multi-standard supports could be then way of avoiding another legal battle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Blue Ray Winning? Since When?

I to know of “nobody” who has purchased a BluRay player but do know a few people who have purchased HD DVD. Thw popularity and last “player” standing contest has actually become absurd. The consumer stands by almost helpless as the media says one week “Blue Ray”, next week “HD DVD” and then wait, wait don’t buy yet – wait for a winner.
In the meantime the on-demand features at your locall cable tv company are expaanding offerings on HD programming. By the time this battle is over and the smoke clears Blockbuster(movie rental stores) will be out of business and Comcast(your local cable company) will be the sole source of any HD programming because you can’t rent any movies for the player you just bought.

I don’t know about you but I think the Amercian Public has had an overdose of stupid regarding BR and HD DVD.
Final Note:
Blue Ray players $600+
HD DVD Players $300
I think the American consumer will choose as they normally do.

Hisham says:

Re: Blue Ray Winning? Since When?

The price drop in the PS3 set it in stone. The fact that you can buy a complete 1080p HD entertainment system with wireless network support, Blu-Ray, Upconverting DVD player support(EVEN BURNED DVDS!!), a hard drive for storing movies, games, demos, trailers, pictures, music you name it for under $400, why would you go out and buy anything else?? Why would you spend $300-$600 on a HD-DVD player or even a 360 that comes incomplete out of the box?

Its unfortunate though for these formats, because they will be very short lived, I would say that in 4 years Physical Mediums like these will be obsolete, when everyone makes the switch to online video.

Twinrova says:

This whole format war was stupid to begin with

I saw this:
I think the American consumer will choose as they normally do.
and just had to respond.

Let me point out something about this “choosing”: Americans are completely stupid when it comes to even understanding HD, let alone there’s a format war going on.

I’ve seen many people standing in line returning their “broken DVD” because it didn’t work in their standard DVD player and wanted their money back (to be told no, of course).

Or how about the purchases of HD-DVD movies to go into their Blu-Ray players? Yep, seen that too.

Don’t rely on Americans to “choose” correctly, or even understand what they’re buying. Price means nothing anymore. It’s all about hype (iPod anyone?).

Now, to remain on topic, I’ve yet to buy any of the latest HD players because I’ve learned some somethings from the last format war enough to sit this one out and wait.

Personally, I can’t believe anyone’s foolish enough to buy any version.

Regardless what format wins, the ultimate losers are the consumers who paid for the “next best thing”.

Joseph (profile) says:

Re: Does it really matter?

I don’t think anyone really cares who wins. I bought an HD-DVD drive to go along with my xbox 360 (set me back $200) I will probably buy a PS3 eventually ($400 and includes bluray) so either way the only problem i will have is figuring out which DVD format to buy and remembering to put the DVDs in the right player.

I think the real loser is the failure rate on the 360, when my 360 dies my HD-DVD drive is useless.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Does it really matter?

“I don’t think anyone really cares who wins”

I agree with this. The main reason that the DVD was so quickly and widely adopted was all the extra features that it allowed. Better audio and picture even on your standard TV, Multiple audio tracts, interactivity, special bonus content.

HD-DVD and Blue-Ray only add 7.1 surround and 1080p picture, and you have to get a new TV and speakers. How many people do you know with an HDTV? How many people do you know with a 7.1 surround sound setup? I know plenty of people who have HDTVs, I know more who don’t. I know no one who has a 7.1 setup.

I’m still rooting for HDDVD since I have a 360 already (on it’s way to RROD), but I just want one to win so I can actually get one. plus I have about 550G to backup and DVD just doesn’t cut it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Does it really matter?

I’ll tell you how blu-ray can get wide adoption without having to have every consumer own an HDTV. Put DVD quality movies, and ESPECIALLY tv shows onto BD. Just imagine, you could easily fit an entire series onto one disc, so you could have an entire series of lost, or even the entire Lord of the Rings set on one disc. I for one would love that, and it’ll start competing for DVD sales for those without HDTV. Plus I’m sure that in the future nearly every home in america will have an HDTV at some point, and this will allow them to enjoy BD now with SD and in the future with HD.

:P says:

Re: This whole format war was stupid to begin with

Well what do you do for your HD content? People who say other are stupid are dumb. I love the next big thing(I don’t have an iPOD by the way) and love technology and TV!!! So I went and bought my player so I could enjoy my HDTV. SO while you are watching your standard def movies I am enjoying HD ones. And if blu ray wins I will buy a PS3 and be covered from both ends.

Triatomic Tortoise says:

Re: This whole format war was stupid to begin with

“Americans are completely stupid when it comes to even understanding HD, let alone there’s a format war going on.” – Perfect.

“Personally, I can’t believe anyone’s foolish enough to buy any version.” – Not so. People do get attracted to crisp pictures. That’s why they say “seeing is believing”.

Craig says:

Re: They both lost

Perfect example of the post above, some people just dont understand what these new discs are and what they offer.

You also have to take into account the fact that this format war like all others is not being decided by the general public… it’s mostly people with a fair bit of disposable income. They have extra cash to spend on new technology and want the best.

Blu-Ray has the potential to offer more features and better quality since the discs are larger 25 GB compared to 15 with HD-DVD.

TriZz says:

HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray

I see the majority of comments above and it makes me ill. If there is one thing we should have learned in the 80’s it’s that the better format doesn’t always win. Better quality, more cost efficient, all of that doesn’t matter if nobody is making movies available on that format.

As for the original story, it was proper marketing that made VHS the winner in the 80’s, so why is it a bad thing that Toshiba is trying to market the format?

Dan says:

HD-DVD is only "mostly dead"

After Warner Bros. announced it was going Blu-ray exclusively, HD-DVD player sales tanked significantly, going from about 14,000 players sold in the first week of January to 1,500 in the second week. Meanwhile, blu-ray went from 15,000 to 21,000 in the same time span.

HD-DVD has bounced back slightly in week 3, but is still selling well short of Blu-ray. It also appears that a few major retailers are planning to abandon HD-DVD, as shown by both Circuit City and Best Buy clearancing their HD-DVD players.

As far as disc sales go, Blu Ray passed HD-DVD in disc sales back in February, and has since gone on to outsell HD-DVD by a ratio of approximately 2:1 since. Blu ray is also cleaning up shop in Japan on both the hardware and software fronts.

The current HD-DVD exclusive studios are Universal, Paramount, and the Weinstein Company. Universal’s contract ran out and was not renewed,and Paramount apparently has a clause in their contract that would allow them to end their deal. There are also rumors that the Weinstein Company is re-evaluating their commitment to the format.

HD-DVD isn’t dead, but it sure isn’t looking healthy either. They are losing the sales game, just lost a major studio, and apparently have no contractual hold on their remaining exclusive partners.

It’s a shame really, because I like the HD-DVD spec more than the Blu Ray. The HD-DVD spec, in my opinion, is more consumer friendly since it gets rid of the outdated region coding method, and has fewer levels of DRM. Blu Ray beats out HD-DVD on disc capacity, but since video and audio quality are essentially the same due to the same codecs being used, it doesn’t really mean much.

I’m still not buying either format, because my tv sucks, so I don’t really have the impetus to join in the HD rush. Maybe when one of the formats is truly dead and buried, but not before.

k1DBLITZ says:

Blu Ray Has Already Lost.

I’m personally rooting for HD. I think the price drop was very smart on Toshiba’s part. Ultimately, the average consumer (which outnumbers the enthusiast) will go for the less expensive product.

The HD spec is a more consumer friendly spec in my opinion.

With all this talk about Blu Ray “winning” the war, people forget to mention that they have, in fact, already lost. Or should I say, consumers who have already purchased Blu Ray players have lost. (not including the PS3, which is upgradeable) Sony’s response is that you knew what you were getting into by being an early adopter.

How can you support a company like that?

Dan says:

Re: Blu Ray Has Already Lost.

“Ultimately, the average consumer (which outnumbers the enthusiast) will go for the less expensive product.”

This would normally be true, but it isn’t really happening in this format war because the average consumer is bypassing the it altogether and sticking with standard dvds.

The reason HD-DVD player sales tanked is because of the Warner Bros. announcement. Your average consumer isn’t paying attention to those announcements, the enthusiasts are.

“I think the price drop was very smart on Toshiba’s part.”

It was a smart move, but it’s also a desperation move. It also doesn’t appear to have made any significant impact. HD-DVD player sales are still lower than Blu Ray, despite the lower prices. Appearances are more important here: HD-DVD, with the defection of Warner Bros., appears to be (and is) a dying format.

“With all this talk about Blu Ray “winning” the war, people forget to mention that they have, in fact, already lost. Or should I say, consumers who have already purchased Blu Ray players have lost.”

I can only assume that you’re referring to the new 2.0 profile Blu Ray players that are coming out. From everything I’ve read, a profile 2.0 disc will play in an older player, but features requiring the new profile will obviously not work.

“How can you support a company like that?”

Um…early adopters always get screwed over. They want bragging rights for being the first on their street with the newest toy, and deal with the consequences.

The exact same thing has happened with HD TV’s, computer video cards, actually just about any high end electronics period. It’s not just a Sony thing.

Craig says:

Re: Blu Ray Has Already Lost.

The average consumer still isnt willing to invest in this, maybe if hd-dvd had a 50/50 split and could keep it up for another year or 2 this might be true.

But right now only people with disposable income are buying and they want the best (and not most cost effective) so blu-ray is winning.

Now that hd-dvd players are going on clearance and some stores are not stocking the movies they cant keep it alive long enough for the average consumer to decide to make the switch to hd movies.

Robert says:

Blu-Ray Players

How many people do you know who have purchased a playstation 3? Those people now have a blu-ray player. An article dated april 17 2007 lists the playstation as having sold close to 3 million.

Now, if you try to say a certain number of xbox 360’s have been sold, it tells you nothing, as you have to buy the hd dvd player separately for the xbox.

Java Jack (profile) says:

In the end, the content will decide the winner. There are dual format players hitting the streets that can handle either HD DVD or Blu Ray. Currently, these are more expensive at $600-$700 USD. However, you can find these for the PC format for $250 (LG has one).

Therefore, the only thing left to drive is the content availability. Currently, Blu Ray seems to have locked down more studios and the Time Warner announcement certainly set things back for HD DVD. Sony’s battle is costing them a significant amount of money. The deal with TW must have cost a very big chunk of cash. However, the license fees will certainly make up for it in the end if they do win the format war.

As to d’loading HD content or PPV HD, this is certainly one way to get content that will pose a threat to hard copy media, but I doubt it will ever fully replace it.

People like to have hard copies that they can move from player to player easily or take on the road. D’loading and PPV HD does not really facilitate this model just yet. It can be done by the tech enthusiast today, but not by the average user. DRM issues further complicate things here as well. Therefore, it will be a long time before we see the death of physical media.

Hisham says:

Re: Re:

I STRONGLY disagree! I have a Home Media Player (non HD at the moment) with a 750g hard drive. I’ve copied all my DVDs (almost 60+ DVDs) onto this little compact Hard Drive sized Device, not to mention all the Heroes, Prison break, South Park, Family Guy, blah blah blah episodes downloaded from the Net!

1 – NEVER lose another DVD to scratches, dirt, dust .. etc. (my biggest beef with DVDs and CDs)
1 – NO STORAGE space Required for storing 60 + DVDs (I have cleared out an entire section in my living room that previously contained all these dvds)
2 – NEVER lose another DVD. Or find the DVD cover, only to find no DVD in the sleeve. (Damn Kids!!)
3 – Never have to worry about people borrowing DVDs and never returning them.
4 – And you literally have your entire collection in one tiny box that you can carry with you to your friends house, cottage, etc. (not that I recommend you watch TV when you are supposed to be out in nature)
5 – Never have to drive to blockbuster, or abide by Dates to return your rental. (PPV, On Demand, blah blah should replace movie rentals)

6 – You can easily download a YouTube clip and watch it on your drive with the right tools

Now, I’m not saying the average consumer can do all that, but with the right technology and implementation, this process can be idiot-friendly, just like the iPod, iPhone, iMac are idiot-friendly (no offence to Apple enthusiasts, I’m an admirer of their Interface and User Friendly Designs)

Maybe In the past people preferred having something Physical in their hands, but this is a whole new world, and the average consumer is getting a lot smarter and more tech savvy, the old rules don’t apply anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you think people will stick with HD-DVD just because the players are cheaper, think again. People investing in high-quality home theater systems, which include HDTVs and sound systems worth thousands of dollars, are more likely to not care about how much the player they want costs, but rather if they are getting the right player. If they believe that HD-DVD is on the way out and that BR is a better format, or if they simply even see that more and more titles are coming out on BR and less on HD-DVD, the obvious choice for them will be BR, regardless of the price.

Anonymous Coward says:

From Cnet:
“Editor’s note, January 5, 2008: Because of the recent news that Warner Bros. Entertainment will be exclusively supporting Blu-ray, CNET recommends refraining from purchasing an HD DVD player in the near future. Exclusive support of Warner Bros. Entertainment gives Blu-ray a large advantage in terms of studio backing, leaving only Paramount and Universal as major studios releasing movies exclusively on the HD DVD format. This guide will be overhauled after CES to reflect this and any other news announced at the show.”

And will all know what happend at CES with HD-DVD… enough said. Oh and lets not forget Microsofts plans for the Xbox360 Ultimate that has the HD-DVD drive…. oh wait, thats right! THEY SCRAPED IT! HD-DVD is going to fail for one reason and one reason only. It’s not the quality of sound or video because it is the same as a Blu-Ray disk. The storage capacity is more desireable for gamers than an HD-DVD and anyone who developes on a Blu-Ray disk will have alot more flexibility with the content they can include.

I agree with everyone else about the formats though, who cares when we are going to be downloading everything anyways in the next couple of years? The only thing I care about is that my PS3 and Xbox360 (pray for no red ring!) keep on runnin.

Scott Easterday (user link) says:

Format War

Blu-Ray looks like it is taking the lead and now Sony is actually making profit off the PS3, I think HD-DVD is making its last stand to see if can get a push into winning. I know people who have bought a HD-DVD and I know people who bought Blu-Ray. People are still confused on what to get. I personally have a PS3 but haven’t even played Blu-Ray on it yet. I’ve had it for almost a year. By the time we declare a winner we will be downloading movies off the internet as our main source.

Anonymous Coward says:

A *Physical* Format War

It’s a physical delivery mechanism. So it’s a HW war.

My understanding is that HD movies are largely in the same format on either media.

Fat bandwidth really sidelines either physical format.

I find that the price of BD’s seems to be creeping up as the format becomes more dominant. Less sales, specials, etc.

Hallie says:

Wait a minute...

This is strange –

One of the recurring themes here at Techdirt is how the penetration of high-speed connections in the U. S. is over-reported, yet a lot of the responses to this article assume that physical media are going to be replaced by digital downloads within four or five years. Seems to me that’s a bit optimistic.

It also presupposes that everyone who now buys or rents DVDs is going to be willing (or able) to pay for broadband internet service. I don’t know about you, but where I live broadband runs $70 a month. Then add the cost of the movies. I know a lot of people who just can’t afford to spend that kind of money, but could spend $100-200 for a player and rent a few movies during the month.

So between the unavailability of service and the costs involved, I don’t see discs going away anytime in the foreseeable future.

Anonymous Coward says:

Downloadable content will never fully catch on. Everyone seems to forget that you will need space to store all these movies that you want to download, unless you download it, watch it, then delete it/ it expires.
And for me, I will always go to the movie store just to see the pretty girls that work there.

For movie buffs that collect movies, it would take alot of TBs to store all thier movies. And at 500.00+ dollars per drive, where is the cost savings. And one small disk failure and all that media is gone. So instead of your kids spilling his kool-aid on one physical disc. He/she just ruined your entire collection in one fail swoop.

And mainstream DL content is alot more then 4 years in the future. There will be atleast one other physical media format before it happens.

Matt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think that downloadable content will suffer from one basic thing, and that is that people like to own stuff. There’s that feeling that you get from opening the cellophane wrapper, taking out the disc, and watching the movie for the first time in your living room. People around my age (33) and older really like that feeling.

However, the reality is that I have a whole closet FULL of CDs and DVDs that… Well, they really only take up space right now. I have most of my CDs “backed up” on my hard drive, so I theoretically don’t really even need them now. I’d do the same for my DVDs too, if it wasn’t for the fact that it would take more time than I feel like investing in the project.

That said, I think that a lot of the younger folks out there are starting to look at CDs and DVDs in much the same way that my generation look at 8 Tracks and LPs… This is to say as quaint relics of a bygone era. There is no real attachment to CDs, at least not in the same way. Who the hell wants to go buy physical media that’s just going to take up space once it winds up on their iPod? I don’t, and that feeling is only going to get stronger as time goes by.

Given ample bandwidth and selection, streaming video and/or downloadable content is going to kill the DVD and CD. You’ll one day be able to pick up someone’s collection at a garage sale for pennies on the dollar like you used to be able to do for LPs.

Susan Fox (user link) says:

HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray

As far as I’m concerned, they are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I choose none of the above and no more regular DVD’s either, with very few exceptions. Why waste time and resources arguing over a new movie format when they are both going to be superseded by on-demand downloads direct to my TV? I’m happy to wait and rent from Netflix in the meantime.

I’m just one of those stupid consumers some of you guys are always dissing. But I’m smart enough not to fall for another DVD format. Save a tree and a fossil, up with downloads!

bill samson says:


Predictions people……… my guess is Toshiba well buy out the sony bluray concept by the end of 2008, therefore allowing them to manufacture and sell Toshiba Bluray players, I am utterly amazed that there are HD DVD proponents still! Just look at the hard data consumers own four times as many bluray players then HDDVD and the movies are EXCLUSIVELY put out in bluray format in 70% of studios. Commonsense would tell you that even if HDDVD players were 4 dollars a piece, if there is nothing to put on them, then they are useless. So predictions will be 1 year bluray ONLY, 10 years bandwidth breakthrough which will lead to NO PHYSICAL DISKS, when you can download Holographic Versatile Disc like quality (3.9 terabytes) in five minutes AND hard drive space in 2018 will be a standard starting point of 10 petabyte (or 10,000,000 GB)

Susan (user link) says:

to Matt

Nope, I’m 54 and over that feeling. Just got an iMac and all my over 400 CD’s are now digitized and I love it. So all the CD’s are going to go bye-bye. However, we still have a turntable and a couple of boxes of vinyl, which we intend to keep. We figure the grandkids will get a kick out of it just like I did when I saw a player piano.

But your last paragraph is dead on. Digital content is so much more enviromentally desirable than hard copy.

And Bill Samson, hope we don’t have to wait ten years for your prediction to come true.

Dan says:

Going Digital

The move to digital content is going to happen eventually, but I think DRM is going to have to die before anyone trusts in it. There have already been instances where a content provider has changed it’s DRM scheme and invalidated purchased content because of it.

While this is only occurring on a small scale at the moment, moving to a digital standard will put a strain on the current DRM schemes, and with current mindset of the MPAA, the response will be to make them even more complex. And the recurring trend with DRM is that the more complex it gets, the more it alienates customers and creates compatibility problems.

Mike WIet says:


It only matters for the briefest of tech moments. The overwhelming choice will be high capacity DVRs with TIVO like software which combined with improved home network distribution of media will make both obsolete. The exception is for those who do nothing more than pop a rented DVD into a $39 player connected to an old tube TV. So they’ll buy the survivor when it’s $39! The vast majority don’t need either and won’t invest in it today because of 1) cost, 2) no recording capability unless the cost is even higher, 3) no single standard, 4) don’t care to start another new library format, 5) more internet bandwidth will make instant access to any movie anytime with no expensive equipment or media to buy or be tied to. By the time either becomes entrenched the profit margins will be 0 and the media will start collecting dust at Best Buy!

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