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Old 02-11-2008   #1
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Default Netflix to Stop Renting Movies on HD DVD Format

Netflix announced today to its customers that they will no longer be ordering or replacing discs on the HD DVD format, subsequently making Blu-ray the only supported HD format at the rental service. The move comes only weeks after Warner Bros. announced they would exclusively support the Blu-ray format. Netflix will follow Warner, Sony Pictures, Fox and Disney by ultimately offering exclusively Blu-ray titles.

In an embarrassingly bad marketing move, Netflix announced in an email to clients that they will substitute any HD DVD movie “currently in the queue” with a standard DVD by March 2008. Yes, a DVD will be backwards compatible, but the move shows the fundamental lack of understanding of the home theater client on Netflix’s part. You don’t need to be Nostradamus (or even Jimmy the Greek) to see that DVD isn’t a high definition format. People who invested in the players and HDTVs don’t want a ten year-old standard definition format.

Despite the recent troubles the HD DVD camp has had, specifically since “Blu-Friday”, this move by Netflix is a head scratcher. Why would a rental company limit the options their consumers could choose from? My wife and I own multiple players for both formats and use Netflix to rent any and every title in HD that we might want to see. The idea of a rental company limiting my options isn’t very impressive. Before I rip my HD DVD player from my rack, I want to see any and everything good on the format as I have invested deeply to get the best possible video for my theater system.

While it is popular to jump off the HD DVD bandwagon these days, it wasn’t Netflix’s place to make a political statement. They should have sat on the sidelines until bigger players, like Universal, Paramount, Best Buy make their decision on a format. In the end, some will say Blu-ray wins because of Netflix’s decision, and they might be right. However, the way I see it, it is more of a loss for the consumer than a win for Blu-ray.

by: Jerry Del Colliano
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