The high definition Blu-ray Disc format received some good news and bad news over the weekend.
First the bad news: Engadget HD cites a number of posts over at the AVS forum that indicate there may be a problem with mold-like spots appearing on the coating of some Blu-ray Discs, rendering them unplayable.
This "disc rot" apparently has affected some copies of "The Prestige," while many Blu-ray enthusiasts report no problems whatsoever with their copies of the film.
In happier news for Blu-ray, Blockbuster announced early today that they have decided to ramp up their support for the Blu-ray format (over the rival high definition format, HD DVD).
The firm will roll out an expanded Blu-ray disc inventory for rental at 1,700 corporate-owned Blockbuster brick and mortar stores by mid-July. The company says it will continue to offer both Blu-ray and HD DVD titles through its online rental service and will continue to offer both formats at the initial 250 stores that currently carry both high-definition formats.
When Blu-ray and HD DVD were introduced to the marketplace in 2006, Blockbuster began offering the high-definition formats on all titles in which it was available through blockbuster.com. They also introduced both formats on select titles in 250 stores in November of 2006.
The company says Blu-ray rentals have "significantly outpaced" HD DVD rentals at its stores, so they decided to expand the number of stores offering the Blu-ray format.
With the expansion in July, the 1,700 stores will be carrying more than 170 titles in Blu-ray and will continue to add titles in the format as they are released by the studios.
Matthew Smith, SVP Merchandising for Blockbuster:
We intend to meet the demands of our customers and based on the trends we're seeing, we're expanding our Blu-ray inventory to ensure our stores reflect the right level of products.
While it is still too early to say which high-definition format will become the industry standard, we will continue to closely monitor customer rental patterns both at our stores and online, so we can adjust our inventory mix accordingly and ensure that Blockbuster is offering customers the most convenient access to the movies they want, in the format they want.
Obviously, when customers are ready we can expand the Blu-ray offering into more stores and add HD DVD to more locations if that's what customers tell us they want. We'll continue to work with the movie studios to ensure we have the right assortment of products.
Doesn't Blockbuster realize that by putting Blu-ray Discs in 1,700 stores they will effectively have already made that decision for many consumers?
In the hotly contested battle to be the next generation hi def format, this is exactly the sort of thing that Sony (chief architect behind the Blu-ray format) will trumpet to say that Blu-ray has definitively "won" the high def format wars. (I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if cash-hungry Blockbuster is getting a huge slotting allowance from Sony to - ahem - encourage them to make this decision).
If Blockbuster is seeing bigger numbers for its Blu-ray rentals over HD DVD, it might simply be because Blockbuster rents games at its stores and Blu-ray has an installed user base of well over a million Blu-ray DVD players (built into the extraordinarily popular PlayStation 3 gaming device).
If these folks rent movies at the same time they're renting games, well, they're obviously going to choose Blu-ray.
Now, we haven't taken a side in the format war here at the DVD Dossier, but we would like to say - preemptively - to the legions of Blu-ray fanboys: this doesn't mean Blu-ray has "won" anything, just as reports of Blu-ray "disc rot" don't prove that HD DVD is a better product.
It may just mean that people who rent games also choose to rent movies on Blu-ray Disc.