In six months Blu-ray will have 70% studio support, leaving the rest to HD DVD. In another year, Paramount and Dreamworks will be contractually free to support Blu-ray, and if they do so exclusively Universal will most likely be forced to release their movies on Blu-ray. It's still possible that the HD DVD camp will hold out, and that everyone will end up with dual-format players in the future in order to play the two kinds of discs. I would place this likelihood at about 15%. The most likely scenario is that by 2010, at least 95% of movies released in High-Def in most of the world will be Blu-ray (whether or not they also support HD DVD), and consumers will only need one kind of player (except for China).
So, how does this affect me?
I'm going to go dual-format, eventually. I already have an HD DVD player, and I don't regret that purchase (the free movies included would have paid for the player at $20 each). HD DVD exclusive titles will continue to come out for two more years at the very least (from Universal, if not Paramount & Dreamworks), and I will be able to play them. HD DVD (and dual-format) players will continue to be sold. I am in no danger of being stuck with movies that I can't play. (Failed formats rarely die completely. I have an uncle with a rather large collection of LaserDiscs.) Upon hearing the news and its fallout, I came to the conclusion that I will buy a Blu-ray player at some point this year. I will wait for a reasonably-priced Profile 1.1 (or 2.0) player. There were some interesting candidates unveiled at CES. I no longer have any qualms about buying Blu-ray movies when they're worth it (and when I don't mind waiting to watch them), since I will be able to play them soon. I will probably not be buying the DVD version of any newly released movie, since it will come out in High-Def. I just signed up for Netflix, which will give me access to DVDs of movies released on Blu-ray that I don't feel like waiting for. This should also tend to decrease my movie purchases overall. I actually had three Blu-ray movies already, sitting behind my HD DVDs: there was a buy-two-get-the-third-free mail-in offer through Sony, and a buy-one-get-one-free deal at Amazon.com, so I the two movies and sent in the proofs-of-purchase figuring that I could sell the movies if I ended up not getting a player. $20 for Fifth Element, Patriot, and Open Season on Blu-ray was a good deal. I picked up the first four Harry Potter movies for $40 at Amazon.com (they were having a buy-one-get-one-free sale), and sold the DVDs on Half.com for a combined $25. Where movies are available in both HD DVD and Blu-ray, I am likely to go for the best deal, taking into account what's valuable to me (taking price into account):
- HD DVD Combo discs are valuable because I can lend them out, bring them to other people's houses, and rip them to my hard drive (but Netflix mitigates this last point slightly)
- Blu-ray is valuable because the format will almost certainly be with us for a long time
- HD DVD is valuable to me for the same reasons I originally wished to support it: it is also by far the easier format to rip once I have a drive (but again, Netflix).