TOKYO — While supermarkets will not be immediately impacted by the demise of the HD DVD format, retailers and suppliers agree that the end of the long-running battle to become the standard for packaged high-definition video can only be good for business.
Toshiba Corp. here said last week it would cease shipping HD DVD players by the end of March. This follows announcements by major studios and retailers that they would only support Sony's Blu-ray Disc format.
“This announcement marks a tremendous step forward for both the industry and Giant Eagle,” said Chuck Porter, director, video and entertainment, of the Pittsburgh-based retailer. “The industry can now concentrate on the benefits of high-definition using one clear voice.”
Giant Eagle had been stocking Blu-ray and HD DVD, but recently began cutting back on HD DVD. “As the adoption of Blu-ray increases, we will increase both the variety and number of copies that we bring to customers,” he said.
“The news of Toshiba dropping out of the format war excites me a little because I already have some money invested in Blu-ray,” said Bob Gettner, video buyer/coordinator, B&R Stores, Lincoln, Neb. “It leads me to think we will expand the Blu-ray rentals to most of our stores.”
“Supermarkets will benefit from a single high-definition format because consumer demand will increase,” said Bill Bryant, vice president, sales, of distributor Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn. “Mass Merchants will still be the primary destination for Blu-ray, but opportunities for supermarkets may come earlier than originally anticipated.” Retailers will review their position on the new DVD format by the fourth quarter, he said.
While most supermarket video executives think it is too early to get involved in high-definition formats, if Blu-ray's momentum continues, “I think you can expect some kind of breakthrough by the fourth quarter,” said Andrew Miller, director, supermarket division, of distributor Rentrak Corp., Portland, Ore.
Additional reporting by Wendy Toth