The nation's largest retailer said Friday it has decided to sell only Blu-ray DVDs and hardware in its 4,000 U.S. stores and no longer carry rival HD DVD offerings.
The announcement comes five days after Netflix Inc. said it will stop carrying rentals in Toshiba Corp.'s HD DVD format and instead go exclusively with the rival Sony Corp. technology favored by five major movie studios.
Toshiba and Sony have been vying to set the standard for high-definition DVDs and players. The stakes are high because the winner will also get a boost in sales of DVD players needed to read the new format.
Several large retailers have come down on Blu-ray's side, including Target Corp. and Blockbuster Inc.
"We've listened to our customers, who are showing a clear preference toward Blu-ray products and movies with their purchases," Gary Severson, head of home entertainment for Wal-Mart's U.S. stores, said in a statement.
Wal-Mart said it will phase out all HD DVD offerings by June. Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Clubs membership warehouses will continue to sell standard definition movies and DVD players as well as converter technology.
Sony has taken a considerable lead in the format rivalry in recent months, gaining the endorsement of The Walt Disney Co., Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures, News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Viacom's Paramount Pictures, which also owns DreamWorks SKG, and Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric, have opted to release films only in HD DVD.
Still, many consumers have held off on buying a high-definition DVD player until the dominant format is decided.