Toshiba Corp. is expected to pull out of the HD DVD business early this week, people familiar with the situation said, marking the end of one of the biggest and most-expensive format battles in the electronics industry since the VHS format's defeat of Betamax nearly three decades ago.
The decision makes Sony Corp.'s Blu-ray technology the de facto standard for high-definition DVD players, which can show movies with crisp images on big, flat-panel digital televisions. Sony declined to comment.
Since Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. decided last month to support Blu-ray exclusively, sales of Blu-ray players and movies have gained momentum, putting pressure on Toshiba.
"Sales have been hurt since Warner's decision, and we are considering different options," Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Oomori said, though he added that nothing had been decided at this point.
If Toshiba withdraws from the HD DVD business, Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures and General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures, both of which support the format exclusively, would be immediately released from their commitments, one of the people familiar with the situation said. Warner Bros., which is obligated to sell HD DVD movies through May under its contract, would also be freed from those terms.
Of course Sarah McBride is being Captain Obvious