NHK Declares the End of the Format War

Posted by Dave Cowl on February 16, 2008 
Filed Under: Blu-ray, Format War, HD DVD

peace.thumbnail.jpgReuters is reporting that Toshiba Corp is planning to stop production of equipment compatible with the HD DVD format for high-definition video.

Toshiba is expected to suffer losses amounting to tens of billions of yen (hundreds of millions of dollars) to scrap production of HD DVD players and recorders and other steps to exit the business, Japan’s NHK said on its website.

Toshiba plans to continue selling HD DVD equipment at stores for the time being but will not put resources into developing new devices.

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29 Responses to “NHK Declares the End of the Format War”

  1. Felix on February 16th, 2008 10:23 am

    HD DVD, you are the weakest link, goodbye.

    HD DVD is dead, long live BD

  2. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 10:30 am

    I hope Toshiba learnt their lesson, im suprised a veteran of format war’s was able to make such a big mistake. No doubt the DVD forum is already working on a succesor to HD DVD to fight either Blu Ray, HD VMD (Theirs a chance it may take off now), or even the succesor to those formats. I hope Microsoft informs people on the details of their conversations with Sony about Blu Ray and the 360 (Since Sony is the largest and most influential member of the BDA. I highly doubt their will be one released for the 360, and I higly doubt their will be one for the next gen Xbox aswell.

    But back to the topic at hand, it could be they closed down those plants to cut costs down, wait for something offical first. And then that leaves studio support, they will probably switch, but who knows.

    Heres to the future of physical media!

    Heh, no I guess the new topic to cover will probably be Blu Ray vs HD VMD vs CH DVD (Mabye, depends on what the DVD forum says).

  3. Dave Cowl on February 16th, 2008 10:36 am

    If Toshiba formally announces the end of development and manufacture of HD DVD players (as this report kinda indicates) then we just have the fire sales on the current stock and then it is done.

    It really depends somewhat on the scope of what is really going on.

    It would not surprise me if there is a hard cut off like this, since most believe that Tosh is taking a beating with every player sold, and as noted before, this only works out well if there is a future for the format. If there isn’t, there is no gain for that investment. So the plug pulling will likely be sudden and absolute.

  4. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 10:39 am

    The only thing that may be able to stop this is Universal, Paramount, etc announce titles that people would actually want to see in HD.

  5. Dave Cowl on February 16th, 2008 10:45 am

    Perhaps. Universal has American Gangster on Tuesday. And Fletch. After that there is nothing from them. I kinda feel that they have given up on it already, perhaps since the Warner news. It has been really quiet from them.

    It will also be interesting to see what Paramount/DW do.

    Regardless, there is a userbase of some 1M HD DVD households, maybe a little more. It will be interesting to see if that is considered enough to keep the format releasing new titles moving forward, even if no new hardware is made…

  6. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 10:51 am

    Well no doubt they will go Blu, but I don’t think they will cut off HD DVD support right away, Im hoping Paramount will still release the rest of the Star Trek season on HD DVD, mabye even the orignal antology including the movies, since the first season did sell pretty well (Early reports stated 100k by the end of 07), if this turns offical id give the 3 studios about a year or a year and a half before they stop producing HD DVD’s.

  7. JimC on February 16th, 2008 10:59 am

    Doesn’t the article say that Toshiba will also stop production of media as well, i.e. stop manufacturing HDDVD discs, ergo, the supply of HDDVD discs on to which movies could be pressed? If this is the case, then the supply will dry up quickly and so end any new releases for the format…

  8. The Guardian on February 16th, 2008 11:23 am

    Mehar, where did you see these “early reports”? The only reports I saw showed it selling only 6000-7000 in its first week out… I don’t see how they’d get to 100k total.

    Also, in your earlier post you had a decent point about movies people want to see… but what movies do they still have in their vault that people want to see? (Remember, can’t use any Spielberg movies!) I can think of a few I’d like to see… but would they be massive sellers? Not so sure…

  9. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 11:53 am

    Well they would have to have negoitated something with Spielberg first, thats just how things would have worked. Theirs Scarface, Jurrasic Park, Godfather, Back to the future (Again, they would have to negoitate terms with Speilberg about this, Twilight Zone was directed by Speilberg and is on HD and Blu Ray), etc

    About the sales, at the end of 07 reports were released about some of the good sellers for paramount, and Star Trek was on the list as 100k sold.

  10. The Guardian on February 16th, 2008 12:54 pm

    Yes and we all know how trustworthy Paramount is with their numbers :)

  11. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 2:58 pm

    It was actually a 3rd party that found the numbers

  12. Jared on February 16th, 2008 3:44 pm

    Its over, get over it. Christ!!!!!

    Go BLU :)

  13. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 3:53 pm

    Wow take it easy

  14. Dave Cowl on February 16th, 2008 4:09 pm

    Yeah, please keep the comments civilised.

    While we may disagree on things, we can at least present calm arguments :D

    Not sure how you will go with Trek – it was officially delayed recently and now it is anyone’s guess I think.

    I do hope they proceed with release on one format or the other at least…

  15. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 4:22 pm

    Well the delay was because they couldn’t make the dead line, and I could see why, since the team that restores the films and stuff aren’t very big, its just a hand full of people. Plus the extras and stuff would be needed, and they “jam pakced” season 1 with extras. I for one hope they do release the rest of the series on HD DVD, since im not going to buy a Blu Ray player for Season 2 and 3. I don’t see studios shutting down HD DVD production right away, its not natural of the industry, plus their are over 1 million HD DVD players out on the market.

    Remember the Dreamcast? It suffered a similar fate at th hands of Sony, after Sega called it quits software for the console was still released for over a year (and it still is).

  16. Dave Cowl on February 16th, 2008 4:29 pm

    A BD player would probably cost less than S2 and S3 by the time they come out :D

    In any case, a BD player will have other uses moving forward…

  17. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 5:03 pm

    I doubt that it will cost more, even if they don’t release it on HD DVD, they will obiously release it on regular DVD’s, although they killed 2 birds with 1 stone last time.

  18. Belard on February 16th, 2008 6:39 pm

    @ Mehar:
    It will be up to M$ is there is a Blu-Ray addone for the 360. Its a bit more work to make it happen. HD-DVD & 360 both use the same interface software. Either way, the PS3 looks like a better value since the blu-ray player is built in. Either $50 less with half the HD space and no HiDef playedr or $150 more with the add-on player. The PS3 is more value hardware wise and thier software is finally on good footing to go against the 360.

    And YES, UNI/P will be going to BLU ASAP. Look at the release schedules – They were WEAK, compared to WB who announced they were phasing out yet had more HD-DVD titles in the pipe for release. But with Toshiba throwing in the towel, it will be interesting to see if WB cuts HD-DVD all together. UNI/P is not going to just sit there and watch Sony, FOX, Disney and WB selling HiDef movies.

    Mehar said “The only thing that may be able to stop this is Universal, Paramount, etc announce titles that people would actually want to see in HD.”

    Sorry, but no. UNI/P are not in the hardware business. Actually, having SONY own a big chunk of the movie business is one of the reasons why Blu-Ray had more bite over HD-DVD. UNI/P had all of last year to BRING OUT HOT TITLES. And they did some… Shrek3 isn’t one of them. I would not waste 1 minute of my life watching that junk. Shrek 1 & 2 were great.

    @Dave Cowl:
    Some HD-DVD owners admit to buying or owning 2-4 players, including the $500~800 models! Ouch. I’ve been in a home recently where they have like 4 LCD TVs – and I had to tell them that the HD-DVD players were a dying format. So while 1million units were sold, many are replacement or additional players for home… I would guess the actual user base to be under 700,000 users. Especially those who have been buying $120 “backup” players.

    @ Mehar, again: ” I for one hope they do release the rest of the (star trek) series on HD DVD, since im not going to buy a Blu Ray player for Season 2 and 3. ~ Remember the Dreamcast? It suffered a similar fate at th hands of Sony, after Sega called it quits software for the console was still released for over a year”

    It’s not going to happen. Not enough people will buy it. There is completely different mastering types between DVD, HD-DVD and Blu. Making a MASTER for BLU would not be simple to simply stick it on an HD-DVD disc. Remember, Blu has about double the space. The number if discs would be different, the User Interface programming is different. The DVD version is long since done. It doesn’t make logistic sense for Paramount to make HD-DVD vesion of Star Trek for a dead format. Most fans WILL NOT invest $200 per season ($400~600 total) for a player that maybe dead in a year or two and can’t play at a friends house because the friend has a Blu-Ray player. Besides its a double-sided combo discs and as a collecter – I HATE double sided DVDs. I see that Amazon has cut the price in half already. Those fans will wait and buy the Blu-Ray versions.

    Dreamcast was not in a format war. Also, over 10million in 2 years. It has a far larger attach rate and Sega made money. But the PS2 was killing them as it had a built-in DVD player and the unit cost less than many DVD-Players (hmmm sound familer?). Most Dreamcast software is homegrown… its a niche. Having 2-5 titles a year is not a business… its a hobby. And not as an insult to Dreamcast users.

    For the rest if 2008, only 10~40 titles will come out and that’s it. There are almost NO HD-DVD burners to “master” your own discs.

    HD-DVD players had thier own problems, they had many firmware updates.

    HD-DVD R.I.P.

  19. Mehar on February 16th, 2008 7:13 pm

    Firstly, Dreamcast had its own “format war”, secondly why wouldn’t they release the seasons? These companies aren’t going to lose money making HD DVD’s, people still have their players, and if people see something they like they will buy it. REMEMBER, like Sony always did, Software sells hardware, apparently the offical announcment will be on Monday, lets see what else the announcment will include.

  20. Mi on February 16th, 2008 8:11 pm

    The war is over? Anybody want to buy a domain name?? :)

  21. Belard on February 16th, 2008 10:39 pm

    Consoles wars are different from Format wars. Consoles have about a 5 year life span, replaced with new tech. The media works specfic to a a hardware design. A Format Media has to work in any compatible device. Hence, M$ makes ONLY the xbox. Not Toshiba, AMD or Panasonic. Sony is the ONLY maker of PlayStation.

    To remaster each episode, it may cost the studio $10,000 in labor X 25 eps = $250,000 per season. Other costs maybe involved. And I’m not talking about the restoration work they did. Then lets say we can fit 3 episodes per HD-DVD disc at about $2 per disc (production & packaging costs) and Paramount makes 10,000 unit sales = $400,000. That is 650,000+ spent to make the first 10,000 sets… and if they could actually sell that many in a dying format. Paramount may make $100,000.

    The ONLY HD-DVD Star Trek fans willing to spend $200 per box set are going to be rare who are HD-DVD fanatics. The life-span of a typical Optical drive is 1-3 years, depending on usage and enviroment. Its bad enough to have a library of single title movies that won’t be playable in 5 years. But to spend $200 for a box-set of discs that won’t be playable is not smart.

    The fans will buy the Blu-Ray players now, or PS3 or wait till the price hits below $200. They’ll be more happy to spend $200 on a box set that will (A) not be on a dead format (B) Playable for at least the next 5~15 years.

    The replacement of Blu-Ray will be Solid-State memory cards (Kind of like in Star Trek) or non-writable versions of our flash memory keys!

    THAT hardware is possible today! The player price would be SUPER SUPER CHEAP. No laser, no motor, no ejection system, no tracking servos. Nope, just a simple memory slot like those used on SD Flash cards. Why do we NOT have this today? The cost to make a 50GB card is way to high. It needs to cost under $3 per card.

    When these Media cards come out in about 5 years, Blue Ray players can easily have a memory-card slot (some do now) to do both. But a Card ONLY player will be the size of today’s $30 DVD players on the first gen… WOW! And shouldn’t cost more than $200 per player when the come to market.

    The studios will make MORE money having people adopt to BluRAY ASAP and built collections that may need to be RE-PLACED again in 5 years with the memory cards. Not waste time making more people sit on the fence. When Star Trek TOS comes to Blu-Ray, they’ll sell a lot more than what has been sold on HD-D. Those fans who want Star Trek in HiDef will then buy the BLU-RAY players to watch… simple. Also, perhaps they can fit 4-6 episodes per disc vs 3.

  22. The Guardian on February 17th, 2008 5:34 am

    Just a quick note, the episodes are already remastered because they aired on.. CBS I think…

  23. Mehar on February 17th, 2008 8:32 am

    True, but I doubt the laser will wear off in 5 years, besides I could just flip the disc and watch the dvd side of things.

    Their not just making money off the box sets, those episodes are restored and are being run on TV. So they get money from syndication mostly, and some from sales on the side aswell.

    100 000 * 175 (MSRP)= 17500000 not bad, but is useless arguing about this when the studios haven’t released a offical word regarding their future, if all these reports are legit then we should get the offical word tommorow.

  24. Mehar on February 17th, 2008 8:34 am

    Damn I hate google, when you go to their news section and type in either HD DVD or Blu Ray, it just gives you the same reashed story A MILIION TIMES! Its impossible finding some new news regarding anything in that mess.

  25. Belard on February 17th, 2008 3:06 pm

    @ The Guardian:

    I wasn’t including the production costs of remastering the footage, cleaning up dirt and scratches, completely redoing the music and the new 3D Rendering of spaceships, etc. That kind of work was in the MILLIONS.

    You still have to master than video for Media output. What they played on TV isn’t the same for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray etc. Theres time code, Commerical break points that are not in the consumer discs. Also audio codecs are different.

    And the HD-DVD user interface has to be designed for each episoide… it takes people to create menus, add content, etc.

    So yes, I was refering to the master development Season 2 & 3 for HD-DVD. I was guessing the costs based on what I know. Its more likely more expensive than $10K per episode, but it was a nice round number and I’m trying to be nice.

  26. Mehar on February 17th, 2008 3:16 pm

    I think those figures are a bit exagurated, either way I doubt Viacom reads this blog so their not gonna get any ideas here. Lets wait till tommorow (Or tuesday since its a holiday in NA tommorow, unless the announcment comes from Japan).

  27. Belard on February 17th, 2008 3:24 pm

    @ Mehar: “True, but I doubt the laser will wear off in 5 years, besides I could just flip the disc and watch the dvd side of things.”

    Laser pick ups can be defective. I’ve yet to own a DVD player that lasted more than 3 years. And this is STILL early versions of blue laser devices. A Ligtning strike can kill your player, a kid pull down your player, sticks ham in the tray and trys to play it… who knows.

    Any part of the player can die and your Star Trek collection becomes useless.

    Flip it over? Then what was the point of buying the HiDef version? A fan doesn’t blow $200 per box set to simply flip it over to watch it on SD. That is why they’ll wait for the BD version and not worry about their player dying and their collection becoming useless.

  28. Mehar on February 17th, 2008 4:30 pm

    Well upscaling, duh, besides I have had VCR players for over a decade now that work fine, it depends on how well you take care of it. The same thing could happen to a Blu Ray player aswell, I doubt HD DVD will be going anywhere in Asia any time soon so don’t worry.

  29. Belard on February 18th, 2008 3:32 pm

    I take care of my harwdware too. But hardware still fails.

    About 15 years ago, a friend of mine was a high level A/V repair tech. I was heavy into A/V – using my VCRs for duplication, presentations, editing and of course normal use. The VCRs were TOP of the LINE Mitsubishi 4Head HiFi VCRs with a MSRP of $1000 and I had bought 2 of them. Friends bought Hifi VCRs as well after seeing and hearing what mine could do. It wasn’t until 1992 that HiFi VCrs hit $200 for med-low end stuff.

    Anyways – he told me that I used them about 8x the workload compared to the avg VCR user. He kept them clean made alignments, etc. These things were HEAVY and tough. I miss them :)

    The last VCRs are cheap cheap… sure they’er HiFi and all that – but don’t have my feature list… but then again they are $50 or included with DVD players and are feather weight. I will still buy another combo VCR unit one of these days with a DVD-Recorder to convert VHS to DVD. But what I would really like to do is copy VHS to Blu-Ray, with playback in SD – but storage space is massive, means I could put 20+ hrs on a single sided blank.

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