Blu-ray DVDs have outsold HD-DVDs by almost two-to-one in the U.S. over the first nine months of this year according to one source at least.
The figures, which come from Home Media Research, show that from January 1st to September 30th, Blu-ray movie sales totalled 2.6 million in the States, 1.2 million more than the 1.4 million HD-DVDs that have been sold.
The news carries a bit of a sting for Microsoft, which has thrown its lot in with HD-DVD rather than the Sony-backed Blu-ray camp. Analysts, however, are predicting that additional studio support and exclusive hit releases and content could boost HD-DVD's performance in the back end of the year.
Specifically, Paramount and DreamWorks joined the HD-DVD camp back in August. Paramount says that it's summer blockbuster, Transformers
, has had the biggest HD-DVD debut to date, racking up 100,000 sales on its first day of release last week. The title features Web-enabled features, the likes of which have been seen previously
in titles such as 300
. Gerry Kaufhold, analyst with In-Stat research firm believes that features like this could drive a better HD-DVD performance in the year's fourth quarter.
Meanwhile Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research, reckons that the 18 month exclusivity of Paramount and DreamWorks releases to HD-DVD will push the format. "This definitely smooths out the edge that Blu-ray had in exclusive titles and it very much strengthens HD-DVD's hand in the fourth quarter", he said. He still believes that Blu-ray will win out for the year, however.
One major advantage for Blu-ray is that the PS3, despite a troubled sales record, actually ships with a Blu-ray player, while 360 owners are required to buy a HD-DVD playing peripheral. Should rumours of a Toshiba/Microsoft partnership
to produce a 360 with (among other things) a built-in HD-DVD player prove true, the playing field should be levelled out somewhat.
Home Media estimates that since both formats launched in Spring last year, 4.98 million high-definition titles have been sold, including 3.01 million in Blu-ray and 1.97 million in HD-DVD.
"It's going to be 2008 before the dust will really starts to settle. For now, its like watching a yacht race", Kaufhold added. He thinks that growing consumer confusion and no sign of a clear winner in the format war will result in more dual players being released, such as those made by South Korea's LG Electronics Inc.