Just why won’t DVD die?

Fury Road UHDWarner Brothers has just announced it’s line up of 4K BD releases for the year, promising 35 titles between now and Christmas, leading with Mad Max Fury Road and LEGO Movie. If my experience is anything to go by, they’re pissing money up the wall because the people who want UHD physical media are so insignificant that WB could probably hand deliver every unit they sell.

Don’t believe me? I get regular press releases from media companies offering me DVD screeners. I always ask whether they have a Blu Ray Disc option- BD launched 9 and a half years ago now (The first Blu-ray Disc titles were released on June 20, 2006: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, Twister, Underworld: Evolution, xXx (all Sony), and MGM’s The Terminator, if you don’t believe me!)- and I’m almost always told that there is no BD option as there isn’t the demand.

Wondering about this, I asked on a large UK Bloggers Facebook group (upwards of 3,500 members) about who bought BD movies and these are some of the genuine responses I got:

My kids don’t care about the difference between a dvd or blu ray! if they did, I would worry.

We don’t have a blu ray player or anything that plays one…

We only got a blu ray capable device in the last week, so I wouldn’t have wanted blu ray before that.

I never had a blu ray player until we got ps4 and we still buy dvd rather then blu ray it’s like one of them unescessary things in my view

I have both blue ray and dvd and there’s very few films I think are better on blue ray

I’ve got a blue ray player but just buy dvd to be honest x

I ended up with a blu-ray copy of something by accident, asked around our whole office (45+ people, plus many grown up kids), no-one had a blu-ray player.

You get the idea. In fact, out of all the responses I got, not one solitary person had anything good to say about high definition movies. Granted, half of them probably have their PS3 hooked up to the telly via SCART or something but it was bloody depressing anyway. I think there is a real danger outside of tech circles of overplaying the importance of HD fullstop- most of the people on the Clapham Omnibus don’t give two hoots about it.

Due to the way sales are reported, it’s almost impossible to determine what the sales of BD are- anecdotally I’ve heard it’s as low as 2% of the physical media market but it’s nearly impossible to confirm.

What we do know is roughly how many BD capable players there are in the country. PS3 ownership is at >5m, with another 1m of stand alone players. Ignoring next gen consoles, that means there’s more than a fifth of households in the UK with a machine capable of playing BDs. That’s 20%, yet supposedly only 2% of media sales are BD.

If I was remastering my movies for 4K BD, I’d be more than a little worried.

It gets worse though; BARB reports that by the end of 2014, more than 50% of homes owned a television that was over 33 inches. As screen size increases, the justification for higher resolution media (should) increase but it doesn’t seem to have- people seem to be just as happy watching DVD resolution media on a 42 inch telly as they did on a 21 inch CRT. That percentage is likely to have increased significantly during 2015, as prices have tumbled. You can now pick up a branded 4K TV for under £500, and if you’re willing to go with a slightly more esoteric manufacturer, even less than that.

So just how do we kill off DVD? I’m not entirely sure I have the answer…



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  • EX401

    I kinda agree here. I work in the industry and although there’s a big noise about Blu-Ray and HD/4K restorations on what are essentially niche within niche forums, the sales figures tell a different story. A Blu will struggle to sell even at lower prices, but a DVD (kept at a low price) will sell steadily over a long period. People don’t want to pay much for physical media any more, which creates s big problem for those in the industry as profit margins are incredibly low now.

    The whole industry has got into a mess, driving prices down to unrealistic levels just to try and hang on to the customers. The simple fact is people can take or leave buying movies, but the industry understandably hates that idea so is trying everything it can to hang on to the customer. Even at its own expense. Which is a flawed business model, but one that can’t be escaped now as the customer expects a DVD or Blu to be a certain low price now.

    As for UHD BD, I can’t see much future there either. Sadly. It’s just too late to the party.

    I think it says it all when major studios are sub licensing their back catalogues to indie labels for Blu Ray and reissue DVDs while retaining the streaming and TV rights (the still lucrative part)