Wayne, N.J. — Although supplies were very limited, retailers began selling Toshiba's first HD DVD players this week, accompanied by a smattering of titles from the home video divisions of Warner Bros. and Universal Studios.
Many dealers reported rapidly selling out of the limited number of players (typically between two to five units at many Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Sears locations) after opening doors on April 18, which is when the first HD DVD were publicized to arrive.
Toshiba said it initially shipped between 10,000 and 15,000 players to approximately 3,000 storefronts across the country. More shipments will be ramping up shortly.
In most stores, Toshiba delivered its entry HD-A1 player, which carries a $499.99 street price. The step-up HD-XA1 had more limited distribution, with its $799.99 expected street price.
Toshiba is supporting the roll out with several consumer promotions and an extensive advertising campaign highlighting the consumer benefits of HD DVD. The post-launch effort follows a 40-city pre-launch tour.
The company also announced a promotion with Netflix for online rental of HD DVD movie titles. Consumers who purchase an HD DVD player will get a Netflix coupon, included inside the box, good for one free month of DVD rentals, including HD DVD, via Netflix.com.
Toshiba will also use its sponsorship of the recent box office winner “King Kong” to promote the new players. Consumers who purchase a Toshiba HD DVD player before May 31 will receive by mail a $25 certificate that can be used for the purchase King Kong on DVD or HD DVD, once the title is available at participating retailers.
“As a leader in home entertainment, we are thrilled to introduce the first HD DVD players for the U.S. market,” said Jodi Sally, Toshiba digital A/V group marketing VP. “With the introduction of some of the hottest films on HD DVD we are confident that our HD DVD players will complement the rapid market penetration of high definition TVs.”
The related television and print ad campaign uses the “So real you can feel it” slogan. The television commercial targets consumers who are already enjoying HD content via broadcast, and will appear on high-definition channels including Universal HD, The Discovery Channel, HDNet, INHD and HGTV-HD, Toshiba said.
The spots, like the print ads, will play up “the immersive feeling that HD DVD provides,” the company said. Consumers are directed to www.toshibahddvd.com, where they can find a list of available HD DVD titles, local retailers who carry the players and additional product information.
Meanwhile, about three HD DVD titles were supposed to be available to coordinate with the player launch. Initial titles included Universal’s “Serenity,” although initial deliveries were delayed in some areas. Warner Home Video offered “The Last Samurai” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” but “Million Dollar Baby,” which was slated for delivery in the first wave, was delayed slightly by encoding issues, the company said.
The next wave of titles is slated for April 25, featuring “Apollo 13” and “Doom.” Then on May 9, “Jarhead,” “Cinderella Man” and “Assault on Precinct 13,” are due. On May 23, “Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” “Van Helsing” and “U-571” are slated.