MGM formally announced plans to support Blu-ray Disc — the forthcoming high-definition optical disc format — with prerecorded software.
The announcement has been expected since MGM was purchased in April by an investment group including Sony, one of the key developers of the Blu-ray Disc technology. Others in the investment group include Comcast, Providence Equity Partners and Texas Pacific Group.
MGM said it would release movies and TV shows from its library of more than 4,000 films when Blu-ray Disc hardware becomes available in Europe, North America and Japan.
Recent announcements of support from Hollywood studios have given Blu-ray considerable strength in its looming format war with rival HD DVD. In addition to the expected MGM announcement, Blu-ray Disc garnered significant strength when Paramount and Warner Bros. — both HD DVD supporters — said they would support both HD DVD and Blu-ray with software, leaving Universal as the sole studio to have announced support only for HD DVD.
Meanwhile, Intel and Microsoft have also announced support only for HD DVD, due to that format’s managed copy system and interactivity system, which is expected to integrate smoothly with the next Windows operating system. Those announcements encouraged Hewlett-Packard, which is an announced Blu-ray Disc supporter, to call on Blu-ray Disc developers to include the same capabilities in the Blu-ray Disc specifications.
The first HD DVD players are expected to launch in early 2006, while the first Blu-ray Disc players and/or recorders are expected around mid-2006.