In a recent Twitter poll we asked our readers whether or not they have stopped buying discs (meaning Blu-ray & DVD) and gone all digital. The results were overwhelming. 80% of the voters said they have not stopped buying discs versus 16% that said they have. 4% of poll takers said they were still undecided. Long live the disc!
In the music industry, CDs disappeared relatively quickly from shelves as iTunes and other digital music services made streaming the standard. You can still find some CDs at Best Buy, Target, and random gas stations across the country but essentially the physical CD has been replaced. Vinyl, of course, has had a resurgence but can you take a record on a jog with you?
In the movie industry, discs are still landing on retailer’s shelves (despite a decline of almost 15% last year vs. 2017). DVDs dominate with 53% of the market share while Blu-ray trails with 40% and 4k Blu-ray just over 6%.* Those of us who live in the 4k/HDR world probably can’t imagine going back to DVD (or Blu-ray for that matter), but the sales numbers don’t lie. DVDs still rule!
Why Go Digital?
Digital movies are practical. You don’t have to get up, search through your library of discs to find what you’re looking for, turn on the player and inevitably eject whatever disc was in there before, load the new disc, wait for it to load then navigate the interface. Sounds kind of lazy, doesn’t it?
Digital Is Mobile. You can take digital movies anywhere! You don’t need a disc player, TV, or physical media. You just need a device with a screen. And, if downloaded you don’t even need an internet connection.
Digital Is Cheaper (for the most part). While new Blu-rays and 4k Blu-rays can range in price from $19.99 to $34.99, a digital movie is never more than $19.99 — and that’s what you’ll pay for blockbusters.
Why Stay With Discs?
You don’t need internet. As well as having to be “plugged-in” or “connected,” streaming and downloading video content can still destroy your data caps. Then the choice is to stop streaming or pay more. Nobody wants that.
You own them. No company is going to take away your discs if they shut down (ref. Sony Pictures Store, UltraViolet). You might get your Movies Anywhere account hacked or somehow lose all your iTunes purchases in an account change, but those discs are not going anywhere.
They are fun to collect! Are you one of those diehard collectors waiting for the entire MCU universe to be released to 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray? Do you have a SteelBook collection that would impress even the most devoted Reddit users? Physical media is a joy to own, especially when the cover art is great and packaging thoughtfully designed.
The quality is better. Most important of all, Blu-rays and 4k Blu-rays offer a higher quality than digital movies in the same resolution. This is especially true with dramatic-looking video where shadow areas can just get destroyed with compression. You don’t tend to notice so much of a difference with evenly-lit movies like comedies and sitcoms, but with a series like Game of Thrones Blu-ray is clearly the dominant media. With streaming, the viewing experience is also dependent on a good internet connection, which isn’t always possible or consistent.
Having both disc and digital (the best of both worlds) is still the way to go. Blu-ray combo editions and Multi-Screen Editions (a term used by Disney/Buena Vista) have really been a gift from home media distributors. Imagine if you had to buy both disc and digital versions of every movie you want to own? Or, make a choice between the two? Let’s just hope it never ends up that way.
A special thanks to our Twitter followers who contributed to the poll.
*Media Play News via NPD VideoScan