Universal: We're staying with HD DVD

Update ribbon (small)

5:00 pm ET January 10, 2008 -- Universal Studios has officially dispelled the rumors from Variety that it will drop HD DVD and switch to Blu-ray.

"Contrary to unsubstantiated rumors from unnamed sources, Universal's current plan is to continue to support the HD DVD format," said Ken Graffeo, executive vice president of HD strategic marketing for Universal Studios Home Entertainment and also co-president of the HD DVD Promotional Group.

The response would have come sooner, but many HD DVD executives were on flights home from CES when the story from Variety broke.

2:00 pm ET January 10, 2008 -- The HD DVD Promotional Group is expected to release a statement this afternoon refuting claims that Universal is jumping ship to Blu-ray.

While it's not clear what the statement will say, HD DVD indicated at CES that it still had full support from Paramount and Universal -- the last two major Hollywood studios to be backing the format exclusively.

However, without actual exclusive contracts in place, Universal could still decide to switch allegiances in the future.

It's not clear what led to the Variety claims, but they follow similar rumors reported by the Financial Times -- and later disputed by the studio -- that Paramount would go Blu-ray only.

Sources close to the matter say that neither Variety or the Financial Times bothered to contact HD DVD for confirmation before publishing the rumors.

Posted at 9:23am ET:

The entertainment industry publication Daily Variety is reporting this morning that Universal -- the only HD DVD stalwart we haven't talked that much about during CES week -- is preparing to gracefully back out of its commitment to that format.

The studio would first fulfill its remaining promotional commitments to HD DVD, which is what Warner Bros. has also committed to do through May. Variety also confirmed what had been stated as rumor yesterday that Paramount, the other HD DVD backer, does have a clause in its contract with the HD DVD Promotions Group to back out should Warner Bros. also back out.

BetaNews is on the floor of the final day of CES throughout the day, and will gauge reaction to this news.

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