HD DVD: will this torment ever end?

The HD DVD booth at CES 2008

If you're still clinging to the forlorn hope that HD DVD still has some kind of future, then events that have transpired over the last few days will make for a depressing read:

First up, on Monday, US DVD rental giant Netflix announced that it was going to offer Blu-ray rentals in favour of HD DVD ones, then massive US electronics chain

Best Buy

said it was going to give Blu-ray movies more prominence.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said Hollywood's overwhelming support for Blu-ray had finally persuaded the company about which format to support. A press statement confirmed that Netflix own customers were backing Blu-ray too:

"While only a portion of Netflix subscribers have elected to receive high-def DVDs, a majority of those subscribers have chosen Blu-ray over HD DVD.

End of its natural life

"As part of the transition to Blu-ray, the company said it will acquire no new HD DVDs, but that its current HD DVD inventory would continue to rent until the discs' natural life cycle takes them out of circulation in the coming months," Sarandos said.

Netflix has seven million subscribers, who have access to over 90,000 DVD titles. It currently stocks around 400 Blu-ray titles. HD DVD numbers have not been disclosed.

Best Buy's decision is a bigger blow if anything - it is the biggest consumer electronic retail chain in the US, with over 1,200 stores nationwide. Its president and COO Brian Dunn told Reuters:

"Because we believe that Blu-ray is fast emerging as that single format, we have decided to focus on Blu-ray products."

Going down

The HD DVD Promotion Group's response to both decisions seems characteristically weak:

"We have long held the belief that HD DVD is the best format for consumers based on quality and value, and with more than one million HD DVD players on the market it's unfortunate to see Netflix make the decision to stock only Blu-ray titles going forward.

“While the Best Buy announcement says they will recommend Blu-ray, at least they will continue to carry HD DVD and offer consumers a choice at retail."

This latest bad news for the HD DVD camp follows a welter of high profile defections, which include Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox and Blockbuster Video.

Heck, even Hollywood studios' supporting industries are getting in the act. Cargo Comestics has now launched a make-up range originally created for the high-def industry, called blu_ray.

It’s surely only a matter of time before HD DVD’s chief backer Toshiba finally puts the thing out of its misery. Please make it soon Toshiba, OK?