Blu-Ray Movies Are Not Long For This World

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JB Hi-Fi has released its half-year earnings report for 2018 and once again, the Blu-ray and DVD categories have taken a big hit. Software sales (which includes music, movies and video games) fell by 6.5 per cent compared to the first half of FY2017. This was despite a healthy rise in profits for the Games category.

In other words, JB's movie sales are declining at an even faster rate than the above figure suggests. The act of physically placing a disc into a Blu-ray player could soon be as outmoded as VHS tape. Blame Netflix.

Once upon a time, DVD and Blu-ray movies were among JB Hi-Fi's best-selling categories. Those days are long past, with 'software sales' declining rapidly over the past few years. Here's the damage as noted in JB Hi-Fi's report to the ASX (emphasis ours):

Software sales were down 6.5% and on a comparable basis were down 9.3% as a result of an acceleration in the decline in the Movies category but partially offset by growth in the Games Software category.

This shift in consumer spending habits can be directly attributed to the indomitable rise in streaming services such as Stan and Netflix. More than 3.7 million Australian households now subscribe to streaming services, which is an increase of 30 per cent on the previous year. By 2021 subscriptions are expected to exceed 6 million.

Having already killed off most video rental stores in Australia, it would seem outright disc purchases could be next. For all the talk of online piracy, the real threat came from a disruptor within the home entertainment industry.

This is obviously bad news for film buffs who prefer to buy physical media. As we've shouted impotently in the past, there's a range of benefits to DVD and Blu-ray movies that the 'all-you-can-eat' streaming model lacks - from extra on-disc features to owning what you pay for (and only paying for it once).

There's no telling how much longer JB Hi-Fi will continue to support this flagging category. Blu-rays take up a lot of valuable shelf space, after all. The same decline is also happening to music CDs. (Although ironically, the vinyl category is expanding.)

If you prefer physical media to digital subscriptions, our advice is to start snapping up Blu-ray movies while you still can. This is especially true if your cinematic tastes aren't mainstream or extend beyond the 1980s.

Eight Reasons Why I'm Sticking With DVDs And Blu-Rays, Dammit

Physical entertainment is on its last legs -- and they're getting gammier by the month. Before we know it, DVDs and Blu-rays will have gone the way of LaserDisc and VHS tape. To the streamers and torrenters of the world this will be viewed as no big loss. they think it's an obsolete format that's overpriced, prone to scratches and less convenient than digital downloads.

But not me. Here's why I'm sticking with discs to the bitter end, and why you should too. (Also, get off my lawn.)

Read more

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Comments

    Honestly what do they expect? They charge anywhere from $40-$50 per 4K bluray and average $25 per FHD bluray. The price of physical disc movies is beyond ridiculous in Australia.

    I had this discussion with a work colleague a few years ago.

    When DVD's were A Thing, their benefit was their relative size to previous generations. Compare a DVD to a VHS tape, and it was trivial to build a big library of good quality content. Basically, anyone keen on having a library was replacing all their old tapes.

    That didn't happen with blu ray, so once the initial interest built up, those same people were only buying new movies/TV shows, with the occasional replacement of an old DVD. it was always going to hit a wall at some point.

    Fast track to today, and that wall is further apparent thanks to streaming services. If you just want content, they give so much that theres never a lack of stuff to watch.

    I still buy discs myself, I far prefer having the physical version so I can watch it when I want, not only if it happens to be on Stan or Netflix, but my buying habits are far far less than they used to be.

      As much as I love having Netflix and Stan, streaming services are no replacement for my own BluRay / DVD collection. The fact is that, while they have a broad selection, they don't have everything I want at the time I want to watch it. And even if they've got it now, they might not still have it when I want to watch it 12 months from now.

      For me, my Netflix / Stan subscriptions have killed off free-to-air TV viewing (except sport and news), they haven't made any difference to my consumption of movies on physical media.

      If / when physical media dies off completely, I guess I'll be left to continue my collecting on Google Play or something similar, where the selection is wider than the streaming services, and once I buy it it's (theoretically) there forever, not just for a year or whatever until Netflix's rights expire. But that isn't really an ideal solution - the movie on Google generally doesn't include any of the extras you get on the physical disc (behind the scenes / making of docos, commentary tracks, etc). Not only that, but from what I've seen, in many cases when a movie exists in both theatrical and extended / directors' cut versions, Google often only has the theatrical cut. E.g. as far as I can tell, the version of Aliens on Google Play is just the theatrical cut, same with Almost Famous. This is despite the (vastly superior) extended editions of both movies being available on BluRay / DVD.

      Finally, there are some movies that, for one reason or another, just aren't available on Google in this country. If they're available on BluRay then we can still import them from overseas e.g. I recently did that with the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There. Couldn't find a digital copy, but was easily able to get a US copy from Amazon.

      Sadly, though, I think most of my concerns are only actually concerns for people who take their movies fairly seriously. I suspect for most people out there, they don't really care that much - if a movie isn't on Netflix then they'll just skip it and watch one that is. They might not even know that there's a longer / better cut of the film available, and again they probably don't really care anyway. I think the mass market is willing to sacrifice this kind of stuff in exchange for the convenience and relatively low pricing of streaming.

        I couldn't have put this better myself. Except the bit about Aliens: Special Edition - the theatrical cut is a much better movie. :-P

          It's not the fact that you're wrong that bothers me, but rather just HOW wrong you are :P

        Yeah, pretty much the same here. For the most part, theres enough "stuff" on Netflix and Stan to keep me entertained, but my collection is big for the reasons you list. I want them there so I can watch them when I want, not when I'm told I can watch it. Plus I like a lot of the extras.

        And I take the movies seriously, my collection is up around 1500 movies and TV series now, probably higher. I've kinda lost count... And space.

        But I've gone from buying 3-4 movies a week, to maybe buying that many a month, thanks to both streaming and having so many on DVD still.

    I don't tend to buy movies, but like blu-ray box sets of shows.
    If I had a 4K player I'd probably buy some 4k discs since Aussie internet is not great, but even then I can usually stream 4K Netflix straight to my tv so it'd only be for things that aren't up there.

    I'd prefer to own digital content. Reduce the risk of a physical disc getting damaged in some way and rendering the content unplayable. It only takes one little accident to make that $30 worthless.

      Huh? No it doesn't. Discs are very sturdy, and even more so when in hard plastic shells. What "little" accident ruins a disc? In the 90's I used shareware CD's as drink AND ashtray coasters and could still pop them in a drive and get stuff off them! The genuine concern is longevity of these formats - at what point the material actually starts degrading.

        "Disk Rot". Lots of discs produced 20 years ago are starting to fail.
        If stored properly a disc can survive around 500 years, but our houses are not humidity controlled and many will fail within 20-30 years.
        It's a big issue with the second-hand LaserDisk/LaserVision media market.

    Hang on to your collection - Blu-ray will make a nostalgic comeback in 20 years time and all your collections will be worth a mint!!!

    But seriously, charging exponentially more for a fancy 4k title that costs no more to manufacture than a DVD was always destined to fail... almost seems like a plan...

    A few years ago I was looking at the massive collection of DVD's I had amassed.
    I had run out of space. I realised that some were still in their wrapping and most had only been watched once. I thought why am I paying $30-$40 for a movie I only watch once.
    I offloaded some, boxed up the remaining ones and removed the storage.
    After all this time, I have never once had to get a disc out of storage. I haven't had the need/want to view any of them which just shows how often I did actually watch them.
    There is so much good content available these days, that I don't feel the need to re-watch movies or TV I have already seen.

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