Blu-ray has taken an early lead in the high definition disk format race, after continually strong disk sales since the beginning of the year.

HD-DVD loses ground to Blu-ray

According to Video Business Online, consumers bought around 250,000 Blu-ray movies during January, compared to an estimated 125,000 HD DVD movies.

“Every week it grows,” said Rich Marty, VP of new business development at Sony. “It’s growing faster than DVD did. Each month it just looks more and more promising.”

The source claims that 650,000 HD-DVD discs have been sold since the format’s emergence, compared to 675,000 Blu-ray discs – which actually launched later.

However those behind HD-DVD have warned against reading too much into Blu-ray’s apparent early lead. “When they start talking about numbers, two-to-one, that’s really about the release schedule,” said Ken Graffeo of Universal Studios. “You can’t look at the last two months as a trend or as what the consumer wants to do in this format. It’s really an artificial, short time period.”

Providing an interesting litmus test for consumer preference, the recent Oscar winning gangster movie The Departed was released simultaneously on both Blu-ray and HD-DVD in February. The film achieved one of the highest first-week sales totals on both formats –though Blu-ray sales were clearly in front with 20,000 units compared to 13,000 on HD-DVD.

It should be noted that over all Blu-ray disks sell for around $5 less than HD DVD’s, which are slightly more expensive because they contain a standard DVD on the other side. Rather than any consumer technical preferences, Blu-ray’s early lead could be down to this price difference – which is subject to change.

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