HD DVD Market Penetration Revealed

Posted by Dave Cowl on February 19, 2008 
Filed Under: Format War, HD DVD

toshiba.jpgIn comments following the Toshiba press conference, there are some interesting sales numbers for HD DVD players.

Toshiba stated sales of 600,000 players in the US and 300,000 Xbox 360 HD DVD drives. 100,000 units were sold in Europe. And about 10,000 players and 20,000 recorders in Japan. So about 1,030,000 units worldwide.

Personally I found those numbers quite surprising – in that I thought there were more standalone players sold in the USA (and I am sure that some HD DVD supporters believed that there were many more, over 1 million was often seen on the forums).

So while Warner may have sunk the boat with their shot, it is clear that with only 600k units sold in the USA, Toshiba’s targets for HD DVD penetration were not being met…

Related posts:

  1. Toshiba Responds to the Warner News
  2. Sony Unveils Blu-ray Recorders With “Toshiba Killer”
  3. Blu-ray Making Significant Advances in Japan
  4. TDK to Discontinue HD DVD Recordable Media?
  5. Warner, Why No HD DVD/DVD Combos in Japan?


26 Responses to “HD DVD Market Penetration Revealed”

  1. Felix on February 19th, 2008 10:22 am

    Lol…. they are a bunch of liars. we always know it

  2. wreckedchevy on February 19th, 2008 10:52 am

    story was corrected what suprises me the most about the number is with such a huge amount of ps3′s out there compared to a few hd-dvd i’m suprised how well hd media did with a ratio of 10:1 for players i can’t beleive hd-dvd even showed up on the videoscan charts

  3. Dave Cowl on February 19th, 2008 11:39 am

    I think what I reported still stands as correct, though it doesn’t include PC users. My comment really lies with the standalones in the USA. They aimed to sell 1M players last year if I recall, which was scaled down from almost double that, and they ended up with 600k total since inception.

    Seems like they were not meeting goals regardless of other factors…

  4. Mehar on February 19th, 2008 2:18 pm

    Wow, I guess the Warner announcment really put people off from adopting a format. I thought the numbers would have been much higher after the drop, well I hope Toshiba learnt their lessons, I hope someone releases info about where that one billion went that Sony recieved from Toshiba. And to think, we were so close in January, until some money was put the other way.

  5. Aguirre on February 19th, 2008 2:41 pm

    mehar, you weren’t SO close. look at the numbers this very website posted earlier today. there were more playstation 3s in american homes circa december than there were sold hd-dvd players of any kind IN THE WORLD. warner made their decision for a reason, and it wasn’t the same reason that paramount defected to HD-DVD. this thing was over when the ps3 launched with blu-ray in the box. now can paramount please get off their ass, make the inevitable switch, and announce THERE WILL BE BLOOD for blu-ray?!?

  6. Kevin Murphy on February 19th, 2008 3:03 pm

    Toshiba’s marketing and management out to resign. They had a very well engineered system, ready a year or more before the competition was done, cheaper to build, and they couldn’t sell it.

    Perhaps it they had spent less time trying to bribe studios and spent the money subsidizing product and retailers, they might have stood a chance. The Thanksgiving price of $99 for the A3 held all season, might have turned the trick. But instead they raised their price back up and everyone waited for it to come down again. Which it didn’t do until a week past too late.

    Paramount and Warner wanted HD DVD to succeed — cheaper machines meant quicker penetration and higher disc sales. Toshiba promised they’d get that last Xmas, and the clearly did not. They spent all that money on Star Trek, then sold it at rich man’s prices. The Godfather and Titanic would have been better choices.

    All in all a really crappy performance by Toshiba marketing and management. Someone ought to resign.

  7. Dave Cowl on February 19th, 2008 3:11 pm

    I really don’t think cheap players was ever the right answer.

    I was very interested to read that Warner felt that Toshiba had devalued the HD media by virtue of their cheap players with title giveaways…

  8. Aguirre on February 19th, 2008 3:22 pm

    I agree with Warner’s assessment re: HD-DVD devaluing itself. I also agree that another prominent reason behind the format’s failure was the choice of titles… I’m not in the home video industry, and for all I know there could be some perfectly reasonable reason why the backing studios didn’t bust out more of the the big guns (i.e. the Godfather, etc…), but if it wasn’t more difficult or exorbitantly more expensive to put out… they DEFINITELY should have done so. As it stood, there were only a handful of hd-dvd exclusives that made this blu-ray owner jealous.

  9. Mehar on February 19th, 2008 4:05 pm

    Agguire: Meaning that if Toshiba’s plan worked of swaying Fox and Warner over.

  10. Markac on February 19th, 2008 4:38 pm

    I think Toshiba either made a loss or only a tiny profit on every machine they sold. This would explain why the other manufacturers who’d signed to make HD DVD never surfaced?

  11. Kevin Murphy on February 19th, 2008 5:00 pm

    With Sony controlling about 30% of the market (they own a controlling interest in MGM and MGM’s library, too), it would have been almost impossible for anyone to get most of the content market, except Sony. All Sony needed was ONE good ally and they could hold out indefinitely. Once they had Disney and Warner, it was all over. (Fox was never much of a player.)

    Toshiba had to pull content with many, many players; they had little hope of pushing it with Sony’s hold on a significant part of the content. If you cannot get content to sell players, you have to sell players to attract content.

    Now that this thing is over, one really ought to decide if Sony’s control of so many studio assets is a good thing. If you think this is “sour grapes”, substitute Microsoft for Sony, and you might see the problem.

  12. Mehar on February 19th, 2008 5:04 pm

    Kevin: Suppose you are a consumer who dosen’t know anything about the HD wars, suppose on Jan 4th Toshiba got its way and Warner, Fox or both went over to HD DVD. You turn on the news and the reporters tell you about this change, despite Blu Ray still have good support you decide the decision has been made. This is what happened to HD DVD, despite still having Warner on their side until June, and studio support from Universal Paramount Dreamworks and subsides, etc the media made it look like things were doomed.

    You see, the media (even outside of the format war) are a bunch of idiots, their are very few news stations that express things straight up, BBC has been pretty good with Technology and giving both sides of the story, other stations not so much, Fox is the biggest culprit (See “SEXBOX”) with CNN following up, im not sure about MSNBC, but they are probably pretty good with it aswell considering they are the creation of the biggest names in the business. Really depends on local news, not sure where they would go on the spectrum.

  13. Dave Cowl on February 19th, 2008 5:19 pm

    MGM distribution is entirely controlled by Fox these days, with the exception of a few titles that Sony squeezed out before the change.

    Sony is however a decent sized player and would have single handedly assured that Blu-ray would never die like HD DVD just did. Look at UMD…!

    Anyways, considering HD DVD PRG’s tactics, I firmly believe that to be the key player they needed Disney. Even Fox neutral + Warner exclusive would not have been enough. Without Disney there is no market dominance. With Disney, Sony and Warner… you have dominance right there.

    Universal was quite strong but has shown little of its strength of late – Fox, Paramount… well, not done much of anything important really aside from perhaps a few key titles…

    If you go back over the charts, Disney, Warner and Sony have dominated the HD media sales charts.

  14. Aguirre on February 19th, 2008 5:22 pm

    mehar… i really think you’ve gone a bit screwy these past few posts. first off, i don’t think that toshiba was ever as close to winning over warner and (especially fox) as you seem to believe. second… the evil media? please, i know hd-dvd was red, but are you so committed to the color that you’ve taken up republican rhetoric as well? the media didn’t SPIN the warner defection as a doomsday scenario… it WAS a doomsday scenario! 70% + of the major studios suddenly backed one format (a format that was FAR ahead in players sold at the time if you include ps3… which you’d be ridiculous not to). there was a zero percent chance that HD-DVD could win from that day forward, and whatever media you were paying attention to was only being responsible in telling their readers / listeners / viewers that one format was going to die a swift death… and they were right. but they didn’t cause it. they had no interest in ending hd-dvd… methinks, in the kindest possible terms as any vitriol i have about this format war is just about gone… that you need a slight reality check.

  15. Mehar on February 19th, 2008 6:28 pm

    Dave: Sony is the only studio that is still supporting UMD, and sales for that are going no where.

    Aguirre: After the Warner announcment it was made public how close Toshiba actually was, they were closer with Warner then they were Fox, but they were close. Just do a simple good search and go back a few pages to truly see. Very few broadcasters made it clear that Warner was still with HD DVD until June, they made it seem like buying a HD DVD player would kill you.

    It seems like Blu fans are scarred that this truth will destroy them, in the kindest way possible.

  16. Dave Cowl on February 19th, 2008 6:34 pm

    Oddly, Viacom recently released some UMD titles.

    In Japan movie titles are still being released on UMD from Warner including 300 and the latest Harry Potter films…

    In many ways, UMD is more alive than HD DVD is now…

  17. Fei on February 19th, 2008 9:54 pm

    Mehar, here are the problems with your argument that any plainly objective analyst would see:

    1) Before Warner’s decision to go BD-exclusive, Blu-ray still had a 2:1 sales advantage, which was sustained for all of last year. HD DVD fanboys like you have regularly brushed off that key fact, which is incredibly irritating. Any 2:1 sales advantage should be blatantly obvious to anyone as to which side was winning. I’ve never bought into the HD DVD camp’s endless spinning about how the software sales advantage was “no big deal” or “overblown.” I just don’t see how anyone could deny this simple reality, unless he/she was blinded by fanboyism.

    2) With only a few exceptions, BD consistently outsold HD for titles that were available in both formats, despite the fact that the HD versions were often better.

    3) Since the summer, BD standalone players outsold HD players, despite the significant price premium. And we’ve seen that this held true even in the face of Toshiba’s aggressive price cuts starting in November.

    These three facts alone should unambiguously indicate to any objective observer that the consumer (who all sides said would decide the war) chose Blu-ray. And what’s even better is that these facts point to BD’s inevitable win without having to resort to rhetoric about which format is “better.” Again, I’ve always found incredibly irritating the comments from HD DVD fans who brush aside these facts and still insisted that “the consumer should decide.” In the end, the consumer DID decide, which is why Warner went Blu.

    A few more very important facts:

    1. BD always had more support in the consumer electronics industry than HD. Of course, HD had Microsoft and Intel, but neither company made standalone players, and Microsoft was almost neutral (in the sense that they were open to supporting Blu-ray in addition to HD DVD if the market demanded it). We can debate and speculate on the reasons for why more CE makers (or more studios, for that matter) were committed to BD, but that’s irrelevant. The fact is that HD DVD was always at a disadvantage in the industry.

    2. Everyone knows now that Toshiba’s price slashing worked against their favor, not only “devaluing” high-def media but also discouraging other hardware makers from entering the market. The hardware subsidy could’ve been extended for several months, but it couldn’t be extended forever. We should all know that Toshiba’s idea was to subsidize players until HD DVD had won the war, but anyone should be able to see what a dumb strategy that was. If you win the war on an image of affordability and then raise prices back up to realistic, sustainable levels (which would’ve happened anyway), then many consumers would be turned away. Thus, the BDA maintained a saner perspective by keeping the prices realistic all the time.

    3. Warner had three choices before them in January (and earlier): Go BD-exclusive and decisively turn the war to BD’s advantage, stay neutral and leave the war unresolved despite BD’s persisting advantages in the marketplace, or go HD-exclusive and turn the war into a complete stalemate. So my question is, why would Warner have chosen anything other than option #1? Taking into consideration all of the preceding facts, in addition to persistant reports that the HD media market was smaller than expected because of consumer confusion, the only rational way for Warner to go was to turn BD-exclusive. As Warner said, pay-offs were unnecessary and irrelevant considering the amount of money they stood to lose by continuing the format war. So I can take Warner at its word when it denied that it received any pay-offs from Sony. Any rational person would come to the same conclusion.

    4. And even if Warner’s decision was influenced by a pay-off, so what? What’s also irritating about HD DVD fans is how quick and persistant they have been to decry the moves of huge corporations over which they have no control. First of all, the pay-offs have nothing to do with consumers. What companies want to do with their own money is their business, literally. All consumers can and should do is vote with their dollars, unless they want to force lawmakers to regulate certain aspects of a business. Second, I understand that complaining about any pay=offs is basically complaining about a company’s shady business practices, but where was the outcry among HD DVD fans when the news broke that Toshiba and Microsoft had bribed Universal and Paramount/Dreamworks? One can plainly see that the HD DVD camp is simply being childish by holding onto still unsubstantiated rumors that Warner was bribed.

    So the only time that HD DVD had an advantage and was “winning” the war was that short span of time at the very beginning when it was the only HD media option in the marketplace. As the months and years passed, the advantage faded away, and the format found itself at a disadvantage from which it was never able to extricate itself. Thus, in the last year, HD DVD was never “close” to winning the war. It’s just been moribund for a year, and the childish, naive arguments of the HD DVD camp every step of the way, even now (as you’ve demonstrated), have never held water.

    HD DVD may have always been the cheaper option, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to comprehend why price alone was never enough to win the war. So in the interest of being complete, let’s take a look at the price issue.

    1. The benefits of HD media can only truly be reaped by those who own HDTVs and HD projectors. Since the majority of consumers did not own such equipment at the beginning of the war, there was little impetus to invest in them, so price was irrelevant.

    2. The introduction of HD media implicitly sent the message to consumers, however untrue and unintended it may have been, that DVD was becoming obsolete, and they were expected to rebuild their home video libraries all over again. There are still plenty of people today who refuse to invest in HD media because they don’t want to re-buy their movies.

    3. Most people don’t have the money or the interest in building large home video libraries. Instead, they choose their DVD purchases carefully. Quite frankly, neither Blu-ray nor HD DVD has introduced many must-own titles, and even worse, they’ve been particularly slow in releasing high-def catalogue titles. Most catalogue titles, because of their lower priority, have not been given a good mastering job, rendering their quality little better than DVD. Anyway, the point is that the incentive to invest in HD media has been low because of the poor selection.

    4. And of course, there’s consumer confusion and fence-sitting due to the format war. Until November, buying a standalone HD DVD player still meant parting with $300, which most people wouldn’t consider “cheap” for a piece of entertainment equipment. And likewise, most people couldn’t afford to make the wrong choice, so better not to make any choice at all. Don’t forget that many of the people who bought HD DVD players not only had the money to afford to make the wrong choice, but they also had the money to buy supplemental Blu-ray players as well.

    Thus, considering those facts, one can plainly see what price wasn’t really going to win the war. People may scratch their heads at sales figures that show Blu-ray hardware outselling HD DVD hardware despite the price premium, but one need only take a step backward to see that it makes sense. People who invest in HD media already have HDTVs and generally can afford the higher-priced format if they felt that it was the right choice. Thus, I’d rather spend a little more to make sure I was investing in the likely winner than take a bigger gamble just to save some money. This sort of reasoning is why Blu-ray has outsold HD DVD since summer.

    Finally, As it has been previously stated, Sony won the war when it finally released the PS3.

  18. Jonsson on February 20th, 2008 12:32 am

    Surprising indeed. This show that Toshiba was really never even near winning.

    This make the move sof Universal and Paramount look even more surprising, not to mention stupid.

  19. C on February 20th, 2008 7:56 am

    WB saying that Toshiba “devalued” their players seems a bit hypocritical…it was, after all, WB who said they were waiting to see who could deliver the most players to consumers during the holiday season and Toshiba delivered b/c of their incentives.

  20. Dave Cowl on February 20th, 2008 9:37 am

    C: The numbers for 2007 were very close to even. That is demonstrates that on the whole, even the sales Toshiba had to move product, they were not making any ground against the more rationally priced, more expensive, BD players.

  21. C on February 20th, 2008 9:59 am

    Are there any final BD stand-alone #’s for 2007? The last time I remember seeing any was around December, when it was revealed that there were approximately 200k BD stand-alones sold to date.

  22. Dave Cowl on February 20th, 2008 11:04 am

    I am not sure that there were actual numbers released, but if it was 200k then there were also roughly 200k HD DVD players sold. ;) That seems a bit low.

    In any case, the NPD report that 49% of sales were BD and 49% were HD DVD for 2007 can be tracked down from the following link:

  23. Mehar on February 20th, 2008 5:06 pm

    Fei: You just wasted your time typing that up, if Warner and Fox both went HD DVD exclusive HD DVD would have more marketshare (May not be by a wide margin but nevertheless) then Blu Ray, no denyting that. And the way the media likes to blow things out of porportion alot of people waiting on the fence would realize HD DVD would have better support then Blu Ray would have had.

    Its funny, Blu Fan Boys think me stating this will somehow reverse time and cause it to happen!

  24. Belard on February 21st, 2008 1:34 pm

    Mehar: You’re talking about “What if” – Fei was typing in WHAT Happened.

    Disney, Fox and SONY studios were Blue since the beginning… a huge chunk of the market locked out of the Red. Don’t believe me (again), look in HD-Stats and find a FOX movie release.

    That alone *TOLD* me that Blu had serious advantages in studio support. You KNOW that only Universal had RED exclusive until Paramount defected for 6 months.

    “The consumer should decide” phrase was always silly since the consumers were chooseing BLU. And the rest of us wanted it over so we could finally start buying hardware & software. You guys had this fantasy that Toshiba made cheap players because they LOVE you or something. Nope, business tactics – sometimes they work… If Toshiba Hardware sales stayed ahead of blue and their movie sales stayed above blue – then things would be different. But it didn’t happen. For all of 2007 – Red never had a good week.

    Then again, you think VMD and CH-DVD are alternatives to blu…. so oh well. Hey, not to be mean (I mean it) – How old are you? You’re experince in format / market competition seems to show you’ve not gone through this before.

  25. Fei on February 22nd, 2008 6:47 am

    Mehar, you live in a fantasy world where any old rumor vindicating HD DVD is automatically true. There was never any evidence that Fox was going to switch to HD DVD along with Warner Bros. That would literally make no sense. Fox only considered dumping Blu-ray way early in the game because AACS had been cracked, and they became firmly entrenched in the Blu camp when BD+ was introduced and standardized. To think that they would then switch back over to HD DVD on some random whim (what could possibly be Fox’s motivation?) is laughable.

    Therefore, Warner Bros., and Warner alone, was in the position to turn the tide of the format war. But you HD DVD fans go on deluding yourselves, playing the poor victims.

  26. Mehar on February 22nd, 2008 12:52 pm

    You Blu fans are hilarious! Sometimes it makes me thing you were born Blue, when Paramount switched all of you were up in arms about how they were paid and now when Warner was obiously paid to go Blu you guys try to deny it by saying the choice was from the bottom of their hearts. Well if it was, then why did Warner always favor HD DVD when it came to releases?

    And then theirs Belard, you should change your name to “Belend” because your acting like it. I never said I was choosing CH DVD or HD VMD, I said those are the formats that are popular in Asia, and mabye with work they could come to other areas (Athough CH DVD is just HD DVD, but the Chinese DVD forum hasen’t commented on its future since they have different manufactuers).

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