Sony and Blu-ray have lost their exclusivity in JB Hi-Fi stores with the announcement that effective from November, the major retailer will start selling HD DVD players and content. The big winner is Toshiba, with JB Hi-Fi Marketing Director Scott Browning conceding that it was the exclusive Paramount content deal with HD DVD that swung him over to the HD DVD format.
Back in February this year at the launch of the Blu-ray Disc Working Group, Browning said that JB Hi-Fi would only sell Blu-ray hardware and software because of the strength of the format.
But in an interview with SmartHouse today Browning said, “We have come to the conclusion that cutting the consumer out of a HD DVD opportunity was not right, as content is critical and the move by Paramount to support HD DVD exclusively influenced our decision. In addition, Toshiba is a strong brand and we are currently selling their computer products, and will next year be selling their LCD TVs.”
He added, “The dropping of the entry-level price to a HD DVD player late last week by Toshiba was not a key part of our decision. We are focused on 1080p and the HD DVD offering from Toshiba will complement our existing customer offering. Toshiba have done a great job in expanding their CE range and we look forward to working with their team.”
But Toshiba says the recent price cut on its HD DVD players ($499 for the entry-level model) coupled with upcoming marketing campaigns for new release HD DVD titles puts the format in good stead.
Toshiba ISD General Manager Mark Whittard and HD DVD Consortium spokesperson said, “In Australia, Toshiba launched its AV business in July this year, including the full HD DVD player line-up, together with the local formation of the HD DVD Consortium.
“Since then, HD DVD has experienced many milestone successes, such as Paramount’s move to join Universal in exclusively producing HD DVD films, and now JB Hi-Fi’s decision to sell HD DVD hardware and software. The HD DVD Consortium is excited that this latest announcement adds to HD DVD’s momentum and market share gain.”
Retailer JB Hi-Fi previously stocked the full line of Toshiba notebooks including HD DVD models, and now its range of HD DVD products extends to include Toshiba HD DVD players and HD DVD software from Paramount Home Entertainment, DreamWorks, Warner Home Video and Universal Pictures.
HD DVD titles to become available over summer include box office hits Transformers, Bourne Ultimatum and Shrek the Third – all exclusive to the HD format. Christmas will also see the availability of Harry Potter, and TV series Heroes Season 1 and Star Trek – The Original Series.
Globally, Toshiba claims HD DVD sales are strong with United States showing 54% of all stand-alone HD player purchases are in the HD DVD format (NPD) and in Europe, HD DVD has 69% market share (GfK).