Digital Download

Blockbuster Closing

In the least surprising news of the day, physical disc rentals dropped 17% in total over the last year, but still account for almost 62% of the total rental market. This according to Variety, which also points out that rentals overall are down a full 10% while digital rentals are up 5%. The decline of physical discs in favor of digital and streaming services is right on track. The only question is how low physical rentals can go before they reach a plateau of use and how quickly or slowly it will take them to get there. According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), in 2010 68% of households in the US had broadband internet which is a major factor in the switch from reliance on discs to digital. Exactly zero of this is shocking. We’ve watched the real toll that mismanagement and a crippling paradigm shift took on the rental business, and even though kiosks saw profits grow 23$ to $990m and full rental stores saw them drop 33% to $598m, kiosks have their own expiration date to worry about. It may come in 5 years or 10 or 20, but if digital continues to grow in popularity, physical discs will soon be relegated to a niche of collectors, nostalgia fans and those who still don’t have high speed internet.

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I used to love collecting TV seasons on DVD almost as much as collecting movies on DVD. But what the movie discs always added, things like commentary and behind the scenes docs, the TV discs completely lacked. After season 1, what’s left to say? We know how the show got made, why people got cast as they did, what a pain in the ass it was to get the pilot produced, the re-casting that occurred after the pilot. Extra content was hard to come by. For crying out loud, the most recent season of Dexter’s special features included episodes of other Showtime programs. Those are ads, not bonus features. A movie on DVD is easy. It’s a single thing, the story exists in that movie and that movie alone (usually). I don’t have to pop in the next five discs just to get to episode 22 where I find out that House is still a drug addict or that Jack is still really angry about something. In order to re-watch a TV series, especially a serialized one, I have to re-watch the entire thing. Very few shows exists that I enjoy watching single episodes of. I recently spent the last few weeks selling all my old TV on DVD sets, even the ones I had the complete series for, simply because I wasn’t watching them. As I packaged each one and put it into the mail box, I realized how much money I spent on the set, and how useless of a purchase it really was.

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