Let’s state the obvious: Blu-rays hold a monopoly on what we call “physical media” (movies on physical, hard copies like DVDs or Blu-ray discs). They reign triumphant over their DVD predecessors and are likely to be the wave of the physical media future. But 2012 revealed the increasing “conversion” of physical media consumers’ switch to streaming. Blu-ray’s future seems to be on shaky ground.
The “real question” then, as PC World puts it, is whether Blu-ray’s shelf life can last the challenge of video streaming. In other words,
Eio is here to shed light on this issue.
First, Pros and Cons
Many other sites state the numerous pros and cons of Blu-rays and streaming, so I’ll be brief here:
- Audio/video quality: Blu-ray currently has superior A/V quality. Streaming’s quality may be far behind, but it is constantly upgrading with each year.
- Price: Blu-ray is a one time deal (buy or rent a disc) while streaming is a monthly fee (like a gym membership). But one Blu-ray disc is often more expensive than the once-a-month streaming fee.
- Convenience: Streaming is dependent on internet availability and speed while Blu-ray can be watched wherever there is a Blu-ray player/laptop. But of course, the plus-side of streaming is you never have to leave your home.
- Title Selection: As of now, Blu-ray has a wider array of movie and TV titles to choose from, while streaming is limited. But streaming’s selections multiply as we speak.
Second, Seeing the Future by Evaluating Sales
The major sign that tells us whether to invest in Blu-ray is to look at how much Americans spend on video media. Columnist Joe Kukura argues that even though 2012 will be the turning point for Americans to watch more streaming videos than DVD and Blu-ray combined, major movie studios may not switch over to streaming because streaming is much less lucrative. He estimated that 2012 showed streaming sales at a measly $1.7 billion compared to the $12 billion generated by Blu-ray/DVD’s “declining sales.” People may watch more hours by streaming online, but spend more dollars on Blu-ray discs.
Others agree, although for a slightly different reason. Yes, people may switch to streaming like rats abandoning a sinking ship, but one analyst argues Americans are extremely reluctant to let go of their physical media players. In fact, they “hold them with a steely grip,” as displayed by the skyrocketing sales of Redbox rentals and Blu-ray purchases (which had a 23% surge in 2012).
This all goes to show that despite the “claims” that online streaming will soon wipe out physical media, Blu-ray technology seems here to stay. This war fluctuates by the American populace’s love for physical media and the movie industry’s powerful influence over sales and production. Plus, there are numerous variables for each individual’s preference.
For the time being, we can say that Blu-ray is the better choice due to the relative newness of streaming. Only time will tell if streaming’s technology can surpass that of Blu-ray and other forms of physical media. If so, perhaps we will see the end of physical media as we know it. But for now, the battle between Blu-ray and streaming rages on.