Digital Media

Disc Collection

These are hard times for physical media devotees. The format isn’t dead yet – Blu-Rays and DVDs still represent 61% of home video spending – but it may as well be. Streaming, video-on-demand and digital downloads are becoming the standards for home viewing. Between 2007 and 2012, sales rose from $1.3 billion to $5.5 billion and researchers say online revenues will increase to ten times their 2007 level by 2017. Digital superiority seems to be a foregone conclusion, and there’s a pressure for physical media lovers like me to concede that resistance is futile. We’re becoming extreme hobbyists, collecting the unnecessary and perpetually having to justify our unwillingness to succumb to the new status quo. We may as well be collecting stamps or beta tapes. When Ain’t It Cool’s Alan Cerny recently tweeted “I wish I knew how to quit you, physical media,” it struck me as a capsule of the current climate: it doesn’t matter how much we love discs, we know we’re supposed to be moving on.

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Wal-Mart Entertainment

Five of the six major movie studios (Paramount, Sony, Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Bros.) have partnered together to create a service called UltraViolet, which is an authentication system that gives you the rights to a digital copy of all their movies that you buy on DVD and Blu-ray. The problem with UltraViolet is that it’s kind of a clunky system full of vague and complicated rights issues, it doesn’t utilize any of the content delivery systems that people are already watching their movies on, and it hasn’t done a good enough job educating the public on how to use it. After five minutes spent rooting around their FAQ section I still don’t know what the process of getting an UltraViolet copy of a movie onto my phone or tablet is. All of that is set to change due to a new partnership between those same five studios and Walmart, however.

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Coming off a year where box office sales showed some of the most disappointing weekends in quite a few years, and where the DVD buying bubble has now clearly burst, you could say that it’s starting to look like the film industry is in some financial trouble. They’ve tried to find new revenue in the form of 3D films, but as the months have worn on ticket sales to 3D showings have been bringing in less and less extra cash, and sales of 3D enabled home equipment pretty much never got out of the gate with any momentum. Factor in the rise of cheap rentals through Redbox kiosks and all-you-can-eat streaming services like Netflix, and the film industry as a whole is faced with the daunting task of how to keep their content seen as being a commodity. All hope doesn’t seem to be lost for makers of motion pictures, however, THR talked to a number a studio heads about what’s been working for them over the last year and where they expect to see growth in 2012, and there seems to be some hope. Over and over again the two areas where movies seem to be making more money than they did in year’s past is through video on demand services and sales of Blu-ray discs. Dennis Maguire, the president of worldwide home media distribution for Paramount said, “2011 showed that home entertainment continues to excite and enthrall consumers. Blu-ray and EST continued to surge, and new delivery systems […]

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