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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer electronics maker Toshiba Corp (6502.T) said on Monday it is slashing prices of its HD DVD format players by between 40 to 50 percent as major Hollywood studios move to embrace Sony Corp's (6758.T) Blu-ray format high definition DVDs.
Toshiba America Consumer Products said it cut prices of its HD DVD players effective January 13 to boost market adoption of its next-generation DVD players by mainstream consumers after what it said was a successful fourth quarter in unit sales.
"While price is one of the consideration elements for the early adopter, it is a deal-breaker for the mainstream consumer," said Toshiba executive Yoshi Uchiyama in a statement.
Toshiba's players will now start as low as $149 going up to $399 for the top-of-range player.
The company said it is also stepping up its marketing drive with major initiatives including joint advertising campaigns with studios and extended pricing strategies. Toshiba said it will continue with on-going promotions including five HD DVD titles for free with any of its HD DVD player.
The battle to dominate the next generation of DVD players appeared to have tipped in Sony's favor earlier this month when the biggest Hollywood studio Warner Bros, a unit of Time Warner Inc (TWX.N), said it would exclusively support Blu-ray disc. It had previously supported both next-generation formats.
Analysts saw Warner Bros's move as an end to the next generation DVD war that they say has confused consumers and delayed the development of a multibillion-dollar market.
So far Toshiba has secured agreements with studios including Universal Home Video, Viacom Inc's VIAb.N Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG.
But Blu-ray has support from News Corp's NWSa.N 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp LGF.N. In addition Sony's PlayStation 3 video game system can play Blu-ray movies while Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Xbox 360 works with HD DVD. But Microsoft said at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month that it could consider supporting Blu-ray technology should consumers want it.
Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Tim Dobbyn