It seems that the sales of Blu-ray discs just aren’t getting to the levels that Hollywood hoped for. Combined with the news from last week that DVD sales are in steep decline, and you can see that the age of physical media is definitely looking as if it’s on life support.
According to a report from NPD Group, sales of DVD and Blu-ray discs fell 9.4 percent for the six months ending in March over the same time period last year. Some analysts are claiming the sale of 116 million discs over those six months was due to worse titles being released than in the previous year, but that is still a pretty significant short fall.
The report did go on to say that 15 percent of the consumers polled had used a Blu-ray player in the six month period, up from 9 percent the year before, and this could be attributed to the declining price point of players. The question is, with declining sales of physical media, what are people doing with these players? Depending on the model of the player, they may be accessing streaming media. For instance, I have a Samsung BD-C6500 which can stream Netflix. While I can’t remember the last time I put a Blu-ray disc in it, I use it on a fairly regular basis to access my queue, and sometimes even play media files from a USB drive. It works perfectly fine as a player, I just find myself gravitating to the other media a heck of a lot more.
While I built a huge DVD collection over the years, I never felt the motivation to rebuild it as a Blu-ray collection. I have picked up some key movies that should be seen in a true high def format – I couldn’t believe how many little details I caught in Blade Runner that I had never noticed before – but I feel no burning desire to pick up new copies of things like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, my DVD of that will do just fine.
Between a soft economy, upscaling players that make DVDs look better than ever before and a growing trend of streaming media, is it any wonder why people aren’t buying discs in the numbers they used to? Instead of continuing to pour money into a doomed format, why not look ahead? Why not see about working with cable companies to remove bandwidth caps, and work with device manufacturers to make streaming easy enough that absolutely anyone can understand how to do it? 116 million discs is still a respectable number of sales, but Hollywood needs to start innovating and not whining about the old days.
What do you think? Is the writing on the wall that physical media is coming to an end?