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Woolworths backs Blu-Ray format over HD DVD

Monday January 28th 2008

Woolworths has become the first major retailer to solely back one of the new high definition DVD formats.

The high street firm has announced that it will only stock Blu-Ray high definition DVDs from March, with HD-DVDs being dropped from stores to be sold online.

The move comes after Blu-Ray DVDs outsold HD-DVDs by ten-to-one in Woolies stores over Christ

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mas. From March Woolworths stores will have a Blu-Ray DVD chart in all 820 stores and a Blu-Ray DVD back catalogue section in larger stores. Since launching high definition DVDs in October last year, Woolworths has become the biggest retailer of the new DVD format in the UK. Sales are growing fast, typically rising by over 40 per cent a month. This compares to a relatively flat DVD market. “Sales figures clearly show that the market is moving towards one format of high definition DVD,” says Woolworths DVD buyer Steven McGunigel. “The main reason is the success of Sony's PlayStation 3 machine. Because it plays Blu-Ray discs, there are over million homes in the UK that can view the new high definition format. There is no where near that number of HD-DVD players around.” “Switching to Blu-Ray only will provide one clear offer to customers in the format they want to watch high definition movies in.” Disney's Ratatouille is expected to be the first Woolworths Blu-Ray DVD chart topper. Other big release films coming in the Spring on Blu-Ray DVD are I Am Legend and Sweeney Todd.

Blu-Ray, backed by Sony, versus HD-DVD, backed by Toshiba, has been likened by commentators to the battle between Toshiba's VHS and Sony's Beta-Max in the 1980s.

The new format war has split the electronics and entertainment industries. Blu-Ray has been backed by Samsung, Sony, Warner, Dell, Apple, Disney and 20th Century Fox. HD-DVD has been backed by NEC, Microsoft and Universal.

The real winner will, of course, be decided at the tills with Blu-Ray already streets ahead according to Woolworths.

Both Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs offer much better quality audio and video than DVD and the additional storage means that more time and extras can be packed into one disc.