Movie rental chain Blockbuster has announced it's backing Blu-ray over HD DVD in 1450 of its US stores, and that 1700 of its outlets will be stocking Blu-ray discs. The move, likely to be seen as a blow for the rival HD DVD format, has been driven by customer preferences, following a trial period of renting both types of disc in 250 stores since late last year.

The company will continue to rent HD DVD alongside Blu-ray in the original 250 stores, and online, but says that more than 70% of high-definition rentals to date have been of Blu-ray discs.

The consumers are sending us a message. I can't ignore what I'm seeing," Matthew Smith, senior vice president of merchandising at Blockbuster, told The Associated Press.

He added, "When you walk into a store and see all this product available in Blu-ray and there is less available on HD DVD, I think the consumer gets that."

However, the North American HD DVD Promotional Group says the move is shortsighted: co-president Ken Graffeo said "I think trying to make a format decision using such a short time period is really not measuring what the consumer is saying."

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