In some offbeat news on the HD DVD vs Blu-ray battle, Blockbuster said today that it is rolling out an expanded Blu-ray only disc inventory for rental to 1,700 Blockbuster stores by mid-July. This announcement comes as a major setback to the rival HD DVD format and its supporters, which includes Toshiba, Universal, Microsoft, Intel and others. Blockbuster said that Blu-ray has been more popular with its customers and significantly outpaced rentals in the HD DVD format. Matthew Smith, SVP Merchandising for Blockbuster, said "Obviously, when customers are ready we can expand the Blu-ray offering into more stores and add HD DVD to more locations if that's what customers tell us they want. We'll continue to work with the movie studios to ensure we have the right assortment of products."
Blockbuster will, however, offer both Blu-ray and HD DVD titles through its online rental service, and will continue to offer both formats at its initial 250 stores that currently carry both high-definition formats.
"We intend to meet the demands of our customers and based on the trends we're seeing, we're expanding our Blu-ray inventory to ensure our stores reflect the right level of products," said Smith. "While it is still too early to say which high-definition format will become the industry standard, we will continue to closely monitor customer rental patterns both at our stores and online, so we can adjust our inventory mix accordingly and ensure that Blockbuster is offering customers the most convenient access to the movies they want, in the format they want."
When Blu-ray and HD DVD were introduced to the marketplace in 2006, Blockbuster began offering the high-definition formats on all titles in which it was available through blockbuster.com. Blockbuster also introduced both formats on select titles in 250 stores in November of 2006.
With the expansion in July, the 1,700 stores will be carrying more than 170 titles in Blu-ray and will continue to add titles in the format as they are released from the studios.
Blu-ray formatted titles are available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment, FOX Home Entertainment, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video, and Paramount Home Entertainment and can be played on Blu-ray dedicated players, Sony Playstation 3 or a Blu-ray compatible computer drive.