Poised to become first TV series released on high-def discs.

"The Sopranos" is poised to become the first TV series to be released on high-definition discs. HBO Video said Wednesday (Aug. 9) that its first release on the nascent HD-DVD format will be "The Sopranos: Season 6, Part 1," arriving in stores Nov. 7, the same day as the standard DVD.

The high-definition edition will cost $129.99, $30 more than the standard DVD version.

HBO said a Blu-ray Disc version is on tap for next year.

HD-DVD and Blu-ray are the rival next-generation optical-disc formats vying to succeed DVD as the nation shifts toward high-definition TV sets. By year's end, there will be 25 million-28 million HDTV households in the U.S., according to Warner Bros. research. Both formats offer a clearer picture -- 1,080 lines of resolution compared with 480 for DVD -- and hold three to five times as much data as standard DVDs.

At an HD-DVD panel Monday during the Entertainment Media Expo in University City, representatives from the three studios supporting the format -- Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video and Paramount Home Entertainment -- promised more than 150 HD-DVD titles in stores by year's end.

Warner has 21 titles on the market and will release as many as 50 more; Universal, the only studio to support only HD-DVD, will have released 60 titles by year's end. And Paramount, which has just 10 titles in the market, will release another 10 by year's end.

Warner distributes HBO and New Line Home Entertainment, so both of those suppliers will support the HD-DVD format, as well. New Line has not yet announced any titles. Executive vp Matt Lasorsa said at the conference that the studio will draft its 2007 launch plans after evaluating how the other studios' titles performed in the fourth quarter and how player sales progress.

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