Psst! DVDs Are Starting To Die Too…

from the well,-look-at-that dept

For years, we’ve been pointing out that disc-based media was on the way out, but for the industries (mainly music and movies) that make money from selling those discs, the allure of the cash cow was too strong. They’ve done little to plan for a future without disc-based media — which is why you see the recording industry in such a freakout these days. In the meantime, the DVD world wasn’t much better off. DVDs could have been saved if they’d agreed to a new format early on, stuck to it, and worked on continually adding new and interesting features that made the DVDs, worthwhile — but instead they’ve been stuck in a pointless standards battle where no one will win. Thanks to that, it appears that DVDs are starting to follow CDs on their inevitable sales decline. While there may be whining and complaining about how this damages the movie industry, that’s not the case at all. The demand for movies is still quite high — and if the movie industry ever figures out how to stop treating its customers like criminals, perhaps it will come up with business models that work.

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Comments on “Psst! DVDs Are Starting To Die Too…”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: Wrong again

Just like VHS/Beta is totally dead, right? No industries still use those ANYWHERE…. /sarcasm

Did I say that any of this was “totally dead”? No. Did I say that no industries used it? No. Is it true, however, that the market for VHS is significantly smaller than it was? Yup.

So where exactly am I wrong? The only person who appears to be wrong is you, Paul, who seemed to have trouble actually understanding what was posted. Not the first time you’ve made this kind of mistake in your quest to try to trash Techdirt.

Try again.

If we’re actually wrong, it’s great when people point it out so we can correct our mistakes. However, it does seem like quite a waste of time when folks like yourself simply decide you don’t like me for some reason and want to attack me without substance. I have no problem with actual discussions around opinions or facts, but you didn’t do that. You simply set up a strawman to knock down to pretend like you’d caught me in making a mistake.

Is that really the best thing to do with your time?

PaulT (profile) says:

Once again...

…no surprise here. As with the music industry, this is just the studios reaping what they’ve sown.

Customers have been treated like dirt with DVDs – e.g. I still can’t play them legally on Linux, region coding causes no end of problems and restricts a free market, etc. However, DVDs were still popular because of the clear and massive benefits over VHS (no more rewinding/tape chewing, better image & sound quality, less bulky, cheaper shipping, added extras, etc.).

But, these advantages have now become standards, and people have realised that they get treated badly. The biggest problem is double or triple-dipping. Many movie junkies (myself included) have stopped buying new release DVDs because there’s almost guaranteed to be a better version of the DVD out in 6 months, or when the sequel’s released. If not, the DVD will be half price anyway.

There’s also little incentive for the average consumer to move to high-def. I don’t want to have to replace my entire collection again, and there’s no incentive to do so other than the picture/sound difference – far less incentive than with the VHS > DVD move. On top of that, almost every digital distribution system has been crippled on launch by – yep – DRM. I find it astounding that none of the movie studios are learning from the mistakes of the music industry, considering that most are part of the same corporations.

Add to that the fact that many recent movies have been pretty poor in quality, and they only have themselves to blame yet again. Of course, we’ll keep hearing about “piracy” because they can’t be bothered to innovate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Once again...

i hate having to buy a movie 3 or 4 times, special edition, directors edition, collectors edition, super special directors collector edition, if you’re going to do this at least release them all at the same time, personally i don’t mind spending the money on the super special edition i just hate finding out about 2 months down the road after i’ve already bought what i thought was the “special” edition of a movie only to find out theres an even more “special” edition, its friggin frustrating, so i’m a bit pickier when shopping for my movies, or i just don’t buy it at all and pirate and watch it on my laptop where the digital quality is more than close enough to “Hi-Def” for me.

industry (of any kind) expert says:

life, etc

“and if the movie industry ever figures out how to stop treating its customers like criminals, perhaps it will come up with business models that work.”

I was really surprised when I read this. Mike has never made this point before in any other article. When I clicked the link to this page, I was expecting just another mundane post on the music/movie industry; but, no, instead I was surprised with this thought provoking statement.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

The VCR was cool because for the first time you could record shows and watch them later. Then you also could, relatively cheaply, rent movies and watch them at home at your convenience.

I hate to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but I always thought that buying DVDs was nothing more than a fad. The vast majority of adults only watch movies three times tops. It simply is not worth it to own a DVD you’re only going to watch a couple of times. Thus the movie industry should be working on a system where we can watch/rent streamed HD/DVD quality movies cheaply. If I’m in the mood for an Eastwood movie, I should just be able to watch it simply and cheaply, without leaving the house.

This would mostly kill off sites such as the Pirate Bay. Because if I can watch any movie in HD or DVD quality anytime I want, for only a few bucks, why would I take the time and the hassle to find the movie on the net and download it. (Sure some people would, but for most people it’d be more convenient overall to simply stream/rent it legally.)

OKVol says:

The technology is again not the problem

The DVD technology works fine for me. So do CDs. But, the majority of what is published on more both media is crap.

In the music industry, there are so many committee designed bands and bands that are heavily influenced after their first CD or two that they all are designed to meet Clear Channel specifications for what is a hit.

In the movie industry, so many movies are re-makes of older movies or are part 3, 4, or 16 of a series. Aren’t we up to Rocky 256 now? How many Alien and/or Predator movies do we need? How many think that the Matrix should have stopped at 2?

Music is rebounding when intriguing new bands can get some attention, such as the Arctic Monkeys, that don’t fit the mold.

For the same reason, I reject XM and Sirius radio. I prefer someone like Steve Jones picking my songs for a DJ.

Yeah another AC whatever says:

Huh? DVD's Dead?

Ummm, someone might want to tell Nintendo and Microsoft(Xbox)that. Oh and everyone that bought 35 dollar dvd players over the holidays, oh yeah and the millions of portable dvd players that were selling for like 50-100 bucks.

DVD’s are going to stay right in front until just about every household can download streaming high resolution video to their televisions for a really insignificant price. Until then the masses are not going to put up with 2 hrs worth of downloading for a crappy movie that they can rent for $3.50.

As far as the High Rez DVD formats, I dont know, dont really care upconversion works great for my purposes.

nushustu says:

Re: Re: Huh? DVD's Dead?

Except for that tiny little FACT that sales are declining… but why bother with facts when you know better…

Yeah, but sales may be declining because most movie companies have pretty much put out their entire warehouse of old titles. I mean, I can get the entire run of Charles in Charge on dvd now. I don’t know who would actually buy that, except maybe as a gag gift for someone. At this point, we’re going to see only two types of dvds come out: new releases, and new, bigger versions of desired old releases. We’ll continue to see new editions of The Godfather, but more collections of The Love Boat? Not so much.

So yes, because of that, dvd sales are going to decline. But Yeah another AC whatever is right. DVDs will be THE format until it is sooper-easy and cheap for Joe Sixpack to download whatever he wants quickly.

Damien says:

“The vast majority of adults only watch movies three times tops. It simply is not worth it to own a DVD you’re only going to watch a couple of times.”

Back that statement up. I’ve watched every movie in my collection more times than that easy, and if I like a movie I’ll pop it in maybe once a month for something to do. I’m sure I’m not alone in that habit, so back up your stat.

Yeah another AC whatever says:

It must be the pirates

“Huh? DVD’s Dead?

I didn’t say they were dead. I said their sales were beginning to decline, which is a factual statement.

DVD’s are going to stay right in front

Except for that tiny little FACT that sales are declining… but why bother with facts when you know better…”

OK, I didn’t realize I was being a wise ass, I don’t think what I wrote really deserved:

“… but why bother with facts when you know better…”

But whatever

Big deal, sales of the things have declined a bit, I beleive for the first time in the short history of the media type. So everyone just throw out your DVD player cuz it’ll be useless in 6 months.

Do you think that maybe it could just level off a bit? Maybe people are begining to realize that more often than not the movies are just sitting on a shelf? Is it at all possible this decline may have something to do with the proliferation of DVD rentals via mail, and blockbuster doing away with late fees?

Or I spose it could just be all these people finally figured out how to work usenet and FTP.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: It must be the pirates

So everyone just throw out your DVD player cuz it’ll be useless in 6 months.

Did I say that? No. Did I even come close to implying that? No.

Maybe people are begining to realize that more often than not the movies are just sitting on a shelf?

Doesn’t that support my position that the movie industry is wrong to rely on DVDs for growth? Why yes it does…

Is it at all possible this decline may have something to do with the proliferation of DVD rentals via mail, and blockbuster doing away with late fees?

That is possible, though it would need some data to back it up. But I don’t think it takes away from the key point, which is that there are much more efficient delivery mechanisms than plastic discs. They may not be ready for prime time yet — but they’ll keep getting better, much faster than most people expect.

Shun says:

The winner is piracy

Who cares who’s going to win the format wars? It’s technically already been won. You can get your pirated content which was originally ripped from Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. Which do you prefer? They’re both on Pirate Bay, I’m sure. But with the quality of movies, nowadays, I’d rather hold off.

First, I’m refusing to see any movie based on a book, unless I’ve read the book, already. This is going to stop me from seeing a lot of movies, unless they’ve actually made a film based on “Cally’s War” or something.

Also, I’m waiting for cheap solid-state disks to come out. Not this 64gigs (getting better) NAND-based junk, either. More like 300gigs, and more than 100,000 writes before death. Then, we’ll be talking. Doesn’t help the studios though.

I’m pretty much holding off on all media purchases until Duke Nukem Forever ships. Yeah, I think 10+ years is worth it, don’t you?

DLL says:


I hardly think DVD’s will be dead anytime soon. So what if sales are down there are far more things that would cause that than the death of a format.

I’ve had a DVD player since the time they were first introduced and I have maybe 25 DVD’s in my collection… what’s that tell you about the format? Nothing, it says more about me and my purchasing habits and the fact I feel most movies are crap and only a few are worth *owning* for repeated viewings. Even then, I rarely, and I mean rarely watch them.

Downloading movies is not necessarily the future of media distribution either for the simple fact that not everyone has a PC much less a high speed connection capable of making it a feasible replacement. Moreso, why wait hours for a download when I can run to the store in 10 mins and rent the friggin thing.. or even rent it through my cable provider as in OnDemand?

Will DVD’s be replaced? Eventually, but it will likely be by some other hard media.

Mark says:

My Take...

I saw in Walmart the other day a “super ultra mega special edition” of Lord of the Rings. It was a bundle of all three movies, with 12 (!!!!!) dvd’s in it. Obviously lots of extras, lots of added footage, etc.

I think there is several reasons that DVD sales are seeing a decline. That bundle is a perfect example. It listed for $65. Yet how many other editions are there of that movie? How many editions do studios have to put out before Joe Smith realizes he has 7 copies of the same movie? How many of you ACTUALLY watch the added stuff more than once or twice (be reasonable)? I can understand added footage to the movie, but I mean interviews or bloopers, or removed scenes, etc. The studios are killing themselves by releasing “added value” editions months, even years, after the initial release and the public is realizing it.

On Demand services from cable providers is starting to take hold. No leaving the house to rent movies. Easy to operate. About the same cost as renting. Why should I own a copy of the movie if I can get it from On Demand for a couple bucks? Someone commented that downloading is too complicated. I say it isn’t and On Demand prooves it. Someone else commented that streaming is where things are going. I think, for the most part, that it is, and has. Cable has it figured out. Cable has solved the problem. Cable could very possibly be the new movie distributor.

The question I pose is how long before the DVD industry realizes their folly, stop concentrating on Emma Twotimer who is making copys and try to fight the real threat. Cable.

But that is just MY take. I may be wrong.

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