Universal Green-lights HD DVD

Universal Pictures is among the first Hollywood studios to announce its support for HD DVD, the high-definition optical disc format backed by a coalition of technology companies led by Toshiba. The studio made its announcement in a press release dated November 29.

Executives at the film division of NBC Universal stated that they believe that HD DVD offers "numerous consumer benefits" as well as providing "content providers the most secure enhanced copy protection to date."

Among the benefits for consumers are "enhanced picture and sound quality, substantially greater storage capacity and increased interactivity compared to current DVDs." Adopters of HD DVD will also enjoy the format's backward compatibility with standard DVD, allowing their existing DVD libraries to be played on new HD DVD hardware, according to Universal Pictures president and chief operating officer Rick Finkelstein and Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau, who jointly made the announcement.

"As a content-based company, we are always looking for new ways to deliver our films and television programs to consumers in a high-quality, secure, and user friendly manner," Finkelstein stated. "We believe HD-DVD achieves all of these goals."

Kornblau added that Universal had "evaluated all of the emerging home entertainment technologies and has selected the one which we feel is the most beneficial to our consumers. We are confident that HD DVD’s advanced features will lead to a more robust consumer experience. For content providers such as Universal, the enhanced copy protection allows us to continue our fight against piracy and preserve the integrity of our properties.”

Los Angeles-based Universal will make its first HD DVD titles available by "holiday '05," according to the announcement.