We've all got so caught up in the fighting between Blu-ray and HD DVD that we haven't really given any consideration to the possibility that neither high-definition format will actually win. Indeed, it's actually possible that HD DVD and Blu-ray might both be successful in different parts of the world.
Most people think that the format war will, for the most part, be decided in the US. But it's entirely possible that if HD DVD doesn't do well in the States it might continue to be popular in the UK and Europe. In a recent meeting with executives from companies backing HD DVD, CNET.co.uk was told that one of the reasons for this is the different way movie studios operate this side of the pond. In mainland Europe, around 50 per cent of movies are produced by studios independent of Hollywood. HD DVD is popular with these companies because of its lower production costs and therefore higher profit margins.
The HD DVD backers understand this, and as such have spent a not insignificant amount of time wooing European studios and helping them produce HD DVDs. The Blu-ray camp, on the other hand, has pretty much ignored Europe (according to HD DVD), preferring instead to concentrate its efforts on the more strategically important US market.
There were also some surprising stats given. Microsoft was reluctant to tell us how many HD DVD drives for the Xbox 360 it has sold worldwide, but it did tell us that in the US it has shifted 155,000 of them. This is apparently the biggest-selling accessory Microsoft has ever sold for the 360. What was more surprising is that people buying HD DVD players, on the whole, bought more discs than people buying Blu-ray players. So even though Blu-ray has sold more hardware, including the PlayStation 3, the owners are only buying an average of one disc to play on them. On HD DVD this number is an average of four discs.
We're quite excited about HD DVD at the moment for one simple reason: Heroes, which is due to be released on the format long before it airs on BBC 2. So if you fancy seeing if the cheerleader -- and, indeed, the world -- gets saved in magnificent high definition, get your pre-order in now. -Ian Morris