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DRM Media Technology Entertainment

Physical Media: Down, But Maybe Not Out 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-collection-of-AOL-CDs-will-appreciate-nicely dept.
jfruh writes: "For many tech-savvy folks, it may come as surprise that physical media like DVD and Blu-Ray still generate more movie revenue than streaming services. But PriceWaterhouse Coopers is predicting that the the lines will cross in 2017 as physical media sales and rentals decline; already, fully half of those revenues come from supermarket Redbox kiosks. Still, there are signs that physical media won't vanish entirely, including the obsessive needs of collectors and the music industry's increasing suspicions of digital sales."
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Physical Media: Down, But Maybe Not Out

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  • by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @04:36PM (#47217109) Homepage Journal

    When someone starts making new 456 1/4" tape again.

    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      How about SM911? It's bias-compatible.

    • by operagost (62405)

      We really need 456 2" @30 IPS for analog hipsters.

      OK, maybe 15 IPS with Dolby SR would be cooler, because you've probably never heard of it.

  • stupid premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @04:38PM (#47217135) Homepage Journal

    Tech-savvy folks rip physical media and ffmpeg it into whatever format their device prefers. Fools spend money on DRM'ed downloads.

    • Re:stupid premise (Score:5, Informative)

      by lgw (121541) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @04:55PM (#47217289) Journal

      Exactly this. Cheap bastards torrent (understandable if you're broke), but if you have money? You rip the physical media. Personally, I rip it into a "visually lossless" format since I'm sure players and disk capacity will catch up to file sizes and formats over time, but that's obsession not convenience. There's just no beating the convenience of a normal filesystem with normal media files.

      But then, I tend to watch stuff more than once. DRMed streams are fine, really, if you never plan to watch something again.

      • Exactly this. Cheap bastards torrent (understandable if you're broke), but if you have money? You rip the physical media.

        For $DIETY's sake why? I've already paid for the disk, I've already paid for the player. I have the money, but it makes no dammed sense whatsoever to pay a third time for more (potential failure points) storage media and the electricity to run it. You and the OP ("Tech-savvy folks rip physical media") should speak for yourselves.

        There's just no beating the convenience of a nor

        • Re:stupid premise (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @07:12PM (#47218273)

          Exactly this. Cheap bastards torrent (understandable if you're broke), but if you have money? You rip the physical media.

          For $DIETY's sake why? I've already paid for the disk, I've already paid for the player. I have the money, but it makes no dammed sense whatsoever to pay a third time for more (potential failure points) storage media and the electricity to run it. You and the OP ("Tech-savvy folks rip physical media") should speak for yourselves.

          Because disks get scratched when you play them and destroyed once people other then you start using them. Because I have to store them in some accessible part of my house and can't just scroll down the list on XBMC and pick what I want to watch that night. Because my rips are backups for my disks, and my disks backups for my rips.

          I don't want physical media. What I want is Blu-Ray quality video. I would be perfectly happy to download this, but you can't download Blu-Ray quality video from anywhere, and you can't easily break the encryption on downloaded streams anyway and they cost as much as the physical disk a lot of the time.

          And thanks to XBMC, I only need the one Blu-Ray drive. Everything else can be a thin-client which boots from my server, or one of those Android boxes (don't like those though - driver support is spotty and Android is not a great HTPC OS - plus having all my XBMCs share the same preferences and extensions automagically is wonderful).

        • Yes, I've also paid for my disk, and I want to watch it without the previews and warnings and crap, and I want the remote buttons to work all the time instead of being blocked by PUOs. The thing I find most irritating about DRM'ed media is the persistent reminders that "it's not really yours, it's still ours, even if you think you bought and paid for it".
        • by lgw (121541)

          I have box after box filled with DVDs. It's a damn problem - no space for them, and I'm giving them away as fast as I rip them. Plastic discs just suck. Fuck ads. Fuck menus. Fuck unskippable. Fuck the MPAA. Fuck it all.

          I just want a file I can watch in a media player of my choosing, with everything on a media server instead of piles of boxes. For TV series (I only "watch TV" off of DVDs) I want them all in a directory with proper filenames so that they'll just play in order until I'm tired of that

    • Tech-savvy folks rip physical media and ffmpeg it into whatever format their device prefers. Fools spend money on DRM'ed downloads.

      Tech Savvy folks haven't touched Physical media in 10yrs.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        SNAP! You and your Unnecessary Capitals sure showed him.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Physical media is the one usable fallback you can count on when all of the empty promises of techno-hipsters fail you.

        Unless you want to pirate everything and use protocols that announce your actions to the world, the most reliable method of data acquisition is still physical media. It's also the most reliable way to ensure that you have access to your stuff wherever you happen to be.

        The "lets-force-you-to-download-this-each-and-every-single-time sttreaming services go to crap as soon as there is the slight

    • Tech-savvy folks rip physical media and ffmpeg it into whatever format their device prefers. Fools spend money on DRM'ed downloads.

      So we're all either "tech-savvy" or "fools" with nothing in between?

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @04:38PM (#47217139)

    There is definitely an aspect of obsessive collectors liking physical media, yes: they're more tangible, sometimes look nice (especially in fancy limited editions), etc.. But even people who are not really that big into collecting have a pretty big reason to still prefer physical media: you have some chance of actually keeping it. Your purchase of a book or CD will probably not be remotely "revoked" by the manufacturer, which is more than can be said for the currently popular methods of digital delivery.

    • by rizole (666389)
      OTOH I stopped collecting physical media several years ago and started collecting digital media. Being able to keep it is definately an important part of collecting but I'm not sure whether the physical/digital distinction is more than a preference, whereas the act of collecting is probably a fundamental human trait.
      • by Trepidity (597)

        That's probably true for me as well, to be honest. My MP3 and FLAC collection is much more extensive and lovingly curated/tagged/sorted/etc. than my physical music collection is. But I get the impression that's a pretty niche hobby.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I too collect digital media. It just happens to be stored on physical media...

    • Almost all of my purchased media these days is because of my daughter. She goes over to friends houses and grandmas and other grandmas and brings with her movies to watch. Streaming is still so locked down in the draconian, paranoid past that they've only barely made it convenient for me to do in my own home/network/devices. It's no where near convenient enough to "take with you". Also, there's little to no cost savings for all the downsides.
    • by Artifakt (700173)

      I think I'm pretty far from an obsessive collector (well maybe I do sometimes fall in that category and am just not seeing it), but it's not that relevant whether people are or not.
      I have some significant films and books that have been released in various censored editions. For example, I have the paperback Del Rey Gold Seal version of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which is both vetted by the author and has an afterword detailing some of the many bowderizings of that

    • There is definitely an aspect of obsessive collectors liking physical media, yes: they're more tangible, sometimes look nice (especially in fancy limited editions), etc.. But even people who are not really that big into collecting have a pretty big reason to still prefer physical media: you have some chance of actually keeping it. Your purchase of a book or CD will probably not be remotely "revoked" by the manufacturer, which is more than can be said for the currently popular methods of digital delivery.

      Lucky for me, the PirateBay has never taken back any of the movies I've gotten from them. Those guys are great.

    • I bought everything worth buying. The rest isn't worth renting.

      Transfer buying power to the generation that streams but doesn't buy.

      Assume it it media preference instead of quality preference.

      Reboot everything that wasn't made with the latest CGI.

      Repeat until the shit sandwich you eat is your own. Then complain when people don't buy your shit. Give up and farm shit for a living. Get rich because no one farms for themselves.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @04:41PM (#47217165) Homepage

    The problem with digital "sales" is that they aren't really a sale. They are effectively an extended rental. That rental can be revoked at any time and your entire collection can be made to go away.

    That said, what is going to kill physical media is the availability of cheap subscription options. If something can be had on Netflix for $8 it makes little sense to pay $20 or $60 for the DVDs.

    The comparison between physical media and expensive pay per view services is another matter though. Streaming doesn't have an obvious price advantage.

    Plus there's the question of whether or not what you want is on ANY streaming service.

    • If something can be had on Netflix for $8 it makes little sense to pay $20 or $60 for the DVDs.

      Unless the only Internet providers that serve your home charge $5 to $10 per GB. This is common for satellite and cellular ISPs.

      • Well even then, the problem with Netflix is that they rotate their selection. Just because you can watch movie a today, doesn't mean you'll still have access to it in a month.

        Realistically the best solution (for the consumer) is to get some kind of NAS and run something like Plex (or whatever HTPC setup you want) and download/rip what you're wanting to watch. An industry run without ethics honestly doesn't really deserve your ethical consideration.

        Attempting to extract 20+ dollars for physically owning a

    • by westlake (615356)

      If something can be had on Netflix for $8 it makes little sense to pay $20 or $60 for the DVDs.

      The DVD or Blu-Ray disc is yours to keep. It will never go out of rotation.

      If you are serious about the home theater experience, the Netflix stream isn't going to cut it. While our kids can play their favorite 2K or 4K videos as often as they like --- with no need for the player to be online except for the rare firmware upgrade.

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      The problem with Netflix (and others) is that movies are rarely available forever in the pool.

      It's sure convenient, but old content is constantly shoved out for new content - and being a curmudgeon myself, I like having those old movies available to me.

      I love the convenience that Netflix (and its ilk) provide. For ephemeral things, I just download or stream them, enjoy them, and move on.

      ...but I want to "own" my favorites, even if that ownership is just bits in a drive and a box in storage in the closet u

    • by GreatDrok (684119)

      "The problem with digital "sales" is that they aren't really a sale. They are effectively an extended rental. That rental can be revoked at any time and your entire collection can be made to go away."

      This is exactly my problem. I've always bought discs but sometimes I get a free iTunes voucher so I redeem that. I've recently had a case where a movie from iTunes was showing in reverse colours and they swore blind that it was my fault. I tested it on every device I had an the thing was always the same, a f

    • The comparison between physical media and expensive pay per view services is another matter though. Streaming doesn't have an obvious price advantage.

      I don't know how much your streaming plan and high speed internet costs, but I can recoup most or all of the full cost (as compared to physical media) of both Netflix and my high speed internet by watching four or five movies a month.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        > pay per view

        > pay per view

        Let me post that relevant bit again.

        > pay per view

        Your remarks about Netflix weren't relevant to my point.

        • Same answer. I don't know what you pay for pay for view movies, but they're typically only a couple of bucks most places.

          Expensive PPV events are largely limited to live events, and are thus, irrelevant. Hence my bringing the discussion back to what *is* relevant, things directly comparable to physical media.

          Now kindly fuck off, the adults are having a discussion.

  • blu-ray for 4K / 8K download cap are to low for that. Cable internet may be able to do that but with say 25% of people on the same node are all Streaming at the same time?

    satellite and cable tv have more room but some cable systems like comcast are loaded with old MEPG 2 hardware that can't do it.

  • I'm not surprised... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tompaulco (629533)
    I'm not surprised. I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but I don't stream anything. I used to buy lots of records, then CDs and DVDs. I haven't really bought much recently, but if I were to buy anything, it would be physical media. I don't do streaming for several reasons. If it is DRMed, I worry that the site will shut down. if it is not DRMed, I worry about not being able to save it for later viewing, interrupted transmissions, reduced quality, bandwidth, and other things as well.
    • by rizole (666389)
      And until the industry address the concerns you raise, piracy will always have the advantage of quality and convieniance.
      • And until the industry address the concerns you raise, piracy will always have the advantage of quality and convieniance.

        Right. Pandora fixed music for me. I do not pirate music. Pandora is just too damned easy. I listed to very weird music... very hard to find stuff. But I can always make up a channel that suits my needs. In the event I want a specific song I hop on over to groveshark.

        Pandora should do a video channel. That would probably change everything.

        • by BoberFett (127537)

          I just went up to Pandora and looked for one of my favorite local artists who is increasing in popularity.

          Zero songs.

          Streaming fail.

          Until streaming has everything and nothing ever goes away, owning is better than not owning.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      I don't pirate online music or videos either. My concerns cause me to just not partake at all rather than to try to justify obtaining it illegally.
  • Is the music industry still really suspicious about this? iTunes and Amazon offer thousands of albums/songs for a fair price and their files are DRM free. Not seeing any suspicion on their part...

  • by slapout (93640) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @04:53PM (#47217269)

    1) There is isn't enough bandwidth for streaming everything.

    2) I think Blockbuster might still be in business if they hadn't run all their customer off by trying to get them to purchase extra things. Redbox shows that there's a demand for DVD rentals.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      $1 DVD rentals when you are already at the store for something else... yes. I don't think Blockbuster can compete with those prices and convenience with the overhead of their large stores. If you are saying they would be in business if they invented the vending machine format, then yes, I agree.

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @04:53PM (#47217271)
    I still enjoy the tangible aspect of owning a hard copy of a few hundred movies, in much the same nostalgic way a dead tree novel is sometimes preferable to my Kindle.

    While not a consummate prepper, I can still lose cable, internet, and even electrical service... and bide the disaster with a semblance of civilized entertainment.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's not only collecting; it's also control.

      I was re-watching Babylon 5 episodes via Amazon Prime, watching an episode or two a week. I wasn't quite done with the first season, when Amazon deleted all the episodes from all seasons. I guess their license expired.

      I haven't streamed anything (except old WWII documentaries) since. Having the physical media means I HAVE it, and don't have to rely on someone else 1) also having it, and 2) being willing to stream/send it to me.

      What these industries want more tha

    • While not a consummate prepper, I can still lose cable, internet, and even electrical service... and bide the disaster with a semblance of civilized entertainment.

      Actually the first hour of a power outage is the best time to watch that new-fangled streaming video here. I've got a generator, but most of the neighbors are offline till the power comes back on. So none of that annoying buffering and glitching. But the honeymoon is over all too soon. After the first hour, the cable internet service goes dark. I assume they've got switching/routing equipment at the neighborhood level that has a battery backup for short blackouts.

  • Data Caps (Score:4, Interesting)

    by asmkm22 (1902712) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @04:55PM (#47217281)
    The only reason I still rent movies is because broadband in my area comes with fairly low data caps. I'm stuck paying about $100 a month for 18Mbs, and 150 GB limit. Gotta love monopolies.
  • by swb (14022) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @05:05PM (#47217357)

    When will we see the "Criterion" version of movie streams or downloads?

    Too often what's on consumer video of many films (and, maybe, all films in some way) is compromised intentionally or circumstantially, either in the making of the film or the home video release production.

    Will we ever get "Criterion" editions of these films as streams or downloads? I imagine the jungle of licensing gets in the way not to mention the lowest common denominator thinking that goes with Netflix. But I would expect iTunes or Amazon to sell Criterion streams as downloads.

  • More than half of all movies currently can't be streamed. How can a delivery format go away if content providers won't move most of the content to alternate media?
  • When streaming services can deliver 1080P at 25mbits/sec, sign me up. Most "HD" streaming services I have seen are fairly horrendous. Either they are streaming at reduced resolutions such as 720P or the data rate is poor enough that there are bad artifacts in high motion scenes and transitions. When you have a projector and a large screen, this is a major problem. You see it all. With Blu Ray, there are no artifacts it feels like you're in a theater.

    Also, outside of big cities, most of us are on fairly slow 1.5 to 5mbit/sec connections. The local cable provider recently got a fiber backbone in town which greatly increased their offerings (pulling about 18mbits / sec at home right now) but I am moving and the new neighborhood is back to the slowboat offerings. The duopoly is slow to catch up, they need a concrete competitor before they will make any improvements to their infrastructure. It was only when the cable service started offering internet that the phone company (AT&T) finally started offering DSL in the area.

  • The problem is that the physical media formats still are continuously changing with no guarantees of backwards compatibility. I don't know about everyone else, but I'm not buying Lion King on VHS, DVD and BluRay "remastered" or not. The average consumer doesn't have the money to keep up. It makes sense that PriceWaterhouse Cooper is predicting only a small segment of the population will be driving the sales.
  • Not all physical (optical) media is devoted to entertainment; there are plenty of folks who have yet to be sold on "the cloud" for whatever reason but who still worry about bitrot and the ability to access content relatively quickly. Case in point, one of my immediate family members is a photography buff who has a large library of scanned negatives dating back to the 30s and he's been eyeing M-Discs [mdisc.com] for a while now. Still too expensive for regular use but like many amateur archivists, he's playing a long
  • Even if streaming services eventually overtake physical media usage it still makes little sense to buy a streaming-only player (AppleTV or Roku) instead of a blu-ray player which can access streaming services as well. The difference in costs between the two is too small given the additional functionality of a blu-ray player for playing physical media, including the library of DVDs people may have already from "the good ol' days" before Netflix instant streaming.

    Plus, it's a bit more convenient to take your

  • despite living in a major city, in a suburb popular with young educated professionals, all we have access to in much of the area is 4G, which tends to be a washout at peak times (a youtube video at low quality is a "go away and read a book" while it caches is par for the course at 6am-7am and 6pm through to 10pm weekdays).
    Given I can drive down to my local bricks and mortar store, buy a 1080 def blueray (for pocket change) drive home AND watch half the movie before a download of a 420 def movie
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Drive north of Boston to Dartmouth College. Home of the 1st remote computer connection (from Bell Labs, 1947ish). Oh, and BASIC. There's a bit of tech in the area. Those living in most of the towns nearby can get comcast cable. Many roads don't have cable but there's a wireless internet provider.

    But there are still local DVD rental stores. Remember those? Drive 20-30 minutes out, away from interstate 89 & 91 and you cannot get internet except by Satellite or dial up. Your cell phone will be int

  • Physical Media (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mike Frett (2811077) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @05:45AM (#47220591)

    Call me crazy but I prefer to have the physical copy. This way I can watch it anytime I want and I don't need to worry about the inevitable loss of Internet connectivity. It's the same with Cash, I prefer Cash as it's inevitable that via some Galactic event or War; Satellites will be disabled. People don't generally think about these events, but they are inevitable.

    I still buy DVD also, I turn my nose up at Blu-ray due the ever-changing DRM and sorry quality of the players. Upscaling HDMI DVD Players are the best they have ever been and look just as good as HD Programming on TV. There is also a rumor among companies like Warner and Fox that they are currently taking a loss on Blu-ray sales by trying to match the DVD prices; you see it costs money to go back and do new transfers and add all that extra content. Not to mention all the angry people that will come when they realize they need to buy the Disk again when 4k/8k and whatever else arrives. And to be fair I tried to get into Blu-ray, the quality upgrade wasn't worth the constant lock-ups, slow menus and firmware nonsense.

    Also for people like me, having to replace 1000+ DVDs is not financially possible since I own all the movies I ever wanted and have no real interest in "modern" films; they're all either remakes or reboots anyway and consist of 90% CGI. But if I were forced to choose, I would probably skip Blu-ray and go Digital Download, as if I wanted, I can record the stream and make my own DVD. For anyone who has done it, a DVD made from an HD source is very high quality, even better than the retail version.

    In any case, I don't think Physical Media is going away anytime soon. I think you would have a better chance of dying in your own Bathroom.

    • Call me crazy but I prefer to have the physical copy. This way I can watch it anytime I want and I don't need to worry about the inevitable loss of Internet connectivity.

      Not at all. I have physical copies of all my music and movies, although the physical media - my hard drive - is far more space-efficient than an optical disk. In fact, even 2 hard drives (one as a backup) is still far more space-efficient and, protected as they are in the computer case, I never have to worry about scratches.

      Physical media is definitely not going away, even if those shiny coaster things do.

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