There are already more digital delivery devices connected to HDTVs in US homes than Blu-ray players, thanks largely to the Xbox 360 and the likes of TiVo, Roku, AppleTV and Vudu.

Yet despite the numerical supremacy of players capable of streaming HD content, digital downloads are not expected to be a serious competitor to the Blu-ray format anytime soon.

Why not? Well most consumers don’t have fast enough broadband connections to stream HD video. And the amount of content available is limited.

Even without these factors, most companies say HD streams can’t yet match the quality of Blu-ray.

Despite this, Vudu, Apple iTunes and Amazon Video on Demand have all added high-def titles in the last six months.

They will be joined shortly by Microsoft, via the Xbox 360, and Roxio CinemaNow in a major high-def push.

But because of broadband limitations, most companies in the space are positioning HD downloads as a complement to Blu-ray.

Their rationale for this is covered in detail by Jennifer Netherby at Video Business, who quotes a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report predicting that digital sales won’t come near that of Blu-ray in the next five years.

She goes on to explain that many digital services are planning to deliver them through Blu-ray players in an attempt to expand their reach into the home.

Sonic and Netflix already have deals with LG Electronics to offer their services on BD players coming this fall.

Vudu’s director of content acquisitions Rob Holmes acknowledges that HD streaming and Blu-ray can co-exist.

"We certainly don’t see ourselves as competing with Blu-ray," he told Video Business.

Some comfort for Blu-ray then, but it is surely just a breathing space?

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