By Zachary Currier
Physical media, such as DVDs, is increasingly being replaced by digital media, and it may negate the need for hard copy media like DVDs in the near future.
Jeff Warmouth, a communications media professor at Fitchburg State University and author of “DVD Authoring with DVD Studio Pro 2,” believes that digital media is the wave of the future. “Perhaps within the next five to 10 years, most forms of digital media will exist without the use of disk storage,” Warmouth said. “That’s just the way the industry is going. It’s quicker, more widely available to consumers, and more cost-effective to have content available on a Web site or digital service that is open 24 hours a day, every day.”
According to Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, 42% of their subscribers have streamed content from Netflix in the early months of this year, which is up from 24% in 2009. With services such as On-Demand, Netflix’s instant streaming option, and the big three video game consoles (Xbox360, PS3, and the Wii) offering digital downloads of current movies and games, consumers may already be asking themselves why they need to bother with disks at all.
Could it be that Blu-Ray disks offer a better image quality than digital download content? No, Blu-Ray disks offer 1080p HD video, the same as the HD videos that are streamed through Verizon’s current FiOS network.
Are Blu-Ray disks easier to get than streaming content? In most cases it is not, and in the majority of those cases it is the opposite. Most acquisitions of a Blu-Ray disk require a trip to the store, while digital downloads can be retrieved without ever leaving the living room. With services like Netflix and Hulu, the majority of them can be enjoyed instantly. “Having to get a physical disk into the hands of consumers is just one more obstacle that distributors and marketers have to compete with,” said Warmouth.
Are disks cheaper than downloaded content? Again, no. A new release on Blu-Ray from Wal-Mart costs an average of $25, while Netflix offers streaming video for only $7.99 per month.
So this holiday season, some consumers may consider acquiring a digital download service as opposed to purchasing a form of physical media. It’s where the trend is heading. Consumers may just like the feeling of being able to hold something they purchase in their hands as many people do, but distributors themselves may be making the shift to digital media. Digital media is simply a cheaper and easier way for distributors to handle and for consumers to access than physical media.