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Warner offers *almost* Free Blu-ray Discs to HD DVD Owners

Apr 24th, 2009
The studio does the right thing by fans who supported it with their HD DVD purchase dollars...
Remember those bygone days of the format war? It wasn’t that long ago, and it was the defacto-topic of debate at HT-enthusiast sites (including dvdfile) with many sites picking sides, some trying to stay objective (we hope that describes us here), some spreading unfounded information to try to sway the consumers’ outcome one way or the other, and some sites doing their best to stay neutral and avoid any risk of offending either team by debating openly the pros and cons of each camp. Most of the home-theater discussion forums were ablaze with rumors, vitriol, and mystery guests all purporting to be insiders with secret knowledge of the way things were really going down. And folks in each camp placed their faith in what they believed to be the inevitable outcome that would keep their hard-earned investment in their growing library of HD software, and the hardware to play it, from becoming obsolete.
Once it became clear that Blu-ray Disc had won the final battle and would emerge the single disc-based 1080p HD format for the consumer market, HD DVD collectors were left with the difficult quandary of what to do with their HD DVD collection: try to sell it for a mere fraction of what it had been worth; hold on to those discs tenaciously and refuse to “double dip” for them on Blu-ray Disc (hoping that HD DVD hardware would serve long enough to make this possible); or gradually replace HD DVD copies with Blu-ray Disc versions as various titles would become available (perhaps on a selective case by case basis depending on whether or not the Blu-ray version offered any improvements like lossless audio). Of course, as long as a collector’s HD DVD hardware was still fully functioning, the urgency to replace existing HD DVD titles with Blu was relieved… Hopefully giving the market place time to come up with some additional options that weren’t yet on the table the day that Warner Bros. announced that it would be dropping all support for the HD DVD format, and effectively ending the format war (paving the way for Toshiba’s concession not long after).
Speaking of Warner…
Warner garners special attention as it was the studio that offered strong dual-format support, and as such was the studio who’s decision to go exclusively Blu decided the fate for HD DVD. While most HD DVD collectors were able to muster up the “early adopter” grace for the money they might lose on their Universal and Paramount HD DVD discs (as those studios had been exclusively HD DVD for the latter duration of the format war), having a invested a great deal on HD DVDs from a studio that then chose to shift their support fully to Blu-ray Disc left many HD DVD owners feeling that some sort of compensation was in order. Many supporters of both camps felt strongly that to do right by the loyal customer base that had bought Warner Bros. HD DVD product, Warner should offer some sort of trade-in option for those consumers wishing to swap out their HD DVD discs for the companion Blu-ray Disc title. It’s one thing to expect a studio that was staunchly HD DVD to offer an exchange for a format it didn’t choose, but when a studio happily taking dollars for both camps suddenly slams the death nail in the HD DVD court, it feels a bit different.
Good things come to those who wait…
And offer up an exchange program is just was Warner has now done. Actually it’s even better: there’s no exchange of discs at all: you just send the cover-art insert from your HD DVD case… you get to keep your HD DVD disc which is a mark of good faith for HD DVD collectors as, in some cases, the HD DVD may contain features not available on the Blu-ray Disc version (though the majority of cases are the reverse with many newer Blu-ray Disc releases offering improved picture, full lossless audio, and added bonus material over their HD DVD predecessors). The big catch is that you have to pay $4.95 (or higher... a few choice titles seem to fetch closer to $14.95) per title pluse a separate shipping and handling fee per order (thanks to a few readers who wrote in to correct my original misinformation)... so it's not exactly "free", BUT considering the price of new Blu-ray Disc software, that’s a deal. If you can wait 4-6 weeks for delivery (should be no problem since folks can keep their HD DVD to watch in the meantime), you’ve got the solution that many HD fans had been hoping for.
The site for Blu-ray replacements is:
It looks to me like the program covers (virtually/literally?) every HD DVD title that’s been released on Blu (at first I had worried that the catch might be only some limited selection of unpopular titles). I did notice that the exchange limits folks to 25 discs per request-submission. Those of you putting the system to the test let me know if that’s an absolute limit per consumer or just per request and we’ll update the details here accordingly.
It's not too often that a major studio really goes the extra mile to “do the right thing” despite the accountants holding the bar-graphs of potential lost revenue. From those of us at dvdfile and our many readers who had embraced the HD DVD format and purchased discs from your studio, Warner Bros., you have our thanks and appreciation. Bravo. I should add that your gesture to early adoptors of HD DVD goes a long way to demonstrating your good-will to all HD consumers, and I plan to let my purchase of Warner Bros. Blu-ray Discs reflect it.

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