End of the format war & future prospects
On January 4, 2008, a day before CES 2008, Warner Bros., the only major studio still releasing movies in both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc format, announced it would release only in Blu-ray Disc after May 2008. This effectively included other studios which came under the Warner umbrella, such as New Line Cinema and HBO, though in Europe HBO distribution partner the BBC announced it would, while keeping an eye on market forces, continue to release product on both formats. This led to a chain reaction in the industry, including major U.S. retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Circuit City, and Canadian chains such as Future Shop, dropping HD DVD in their stores. A former major European retailer, Woolworths, dropped HD DVD from its inventory. Netflix and Blockbuster – major DVD rental companies – said they would no longer carry HD DVDs. Following these new developments, on February 19, 2008, Toshiba announced it would end production of HD DVD devices, allowing Blu-ray Disc to become the industry standard for high-density optical disks. Universal Studios, the sole major movie studio to back HD DVD since inception, shortly after Toshiba's announcement, said "while Universal values the close partnership we have shared with Toshiba, it is time to turn our focus to releasing new and catalog titles on Blu-ray Disc." Paramount Studios, which started releasing movies only in HD DVD format during late 2007, also said it would start releasing in Blu-ray Disc. Both studios announced initial Blu-ray lineups in May 2008. With this, all major Hollywood studios now support Blu-ray.
According to Adams Media Research, high-definition software sales were slower in the first two years than DVD software sales. 16.3 million DVD software units were sold in the first two years (1997-1998) compared to 8.3 million high-definition software units (2006-2007). One reason given for this difference was the smaller marketplace (26.5 million HDTVs in 2007 compared to 100 million SDTVs in 1998). Former HD DVD supporter Microsoft has stated that they are not planning to make a Blu-ray Disc drive for the Xbox 360.
Blu-ray Disc began making serious strides as soon as the format war ended. Nielsen VideoScan sales numbers showed that with some titles, such as 20th Century Fox's Hitman, up to 14% of total disc sales were from Blu-ray, although the average for the first half of the year was around 5%. Shortly after the format war ended, a study by The NPD Group found that awareness of Blu-ray Disc had reached 60% of U.S. households. In December 2008 The Dark Knight Blu-ray Disc sold 600,000 copies on the first day of its launch in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. A week after launch the The Dark Knight Blu-ray Disc had sold over 1.7 million copies worldwide making it the first Blu-ray Disc title to sell over a million copies in the first week of release. According to Singulus Technologies AG, Blu-ray is being adopted faster than the DVD format was at the same period of its development. This conclusion was based on the fact that Singulus Technologies has received orders for 21 Blu-ray dual-layer machines during the first quarter of 2008, while 17 DVD machines of this type were made in the same period in 1997. According to GfK Retail and Technology in the first week of November 2008 sales of Blu-ray recorders surpassed DVD recorders in Japan. According to the Digital Entertainment Group the total number of Blu-ray Disc playback devices (both set-top box and game console) had reached 9.6 million by the end of 2008. According to Swicker & Associates Blu-ray Disc software sales in the United States and Canada were 1.2 million in 2006, 19.2 million in 2007, and 82.4 million in 2008.
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