Physical media has been a staple of watching movies for multiple decades now. The media has been around since the early days of VHS and LaserDisc players. Consumers now have the luxury of HD Blu-rays and 4K Ultra HD players. However, physically buying a disc has become less popular with digital media markets and streaming services. Electronic manufacturers like Samsung has halted production on their physical media players. Many sources have reacted to this news as the ultimate end for all physical media. Physical media will eventually die out. However, the format is far from its death. There is plenty of life in this format and tons of benefits to buying physical movies still over digital copies.

Timeline of Picking Out a Movie Between Physical and Digital

When I have a night off with nothing to do, I tend to scan my collection of movies to find something to watch. Sometimes it takes two minutes to download a movie. Other times it takes twenty minutes. I might not even make it through the first half hour before switching it out with something else. As I am using my physical discs, the process takes less amount of time than downloading a movie. Imagine that same process of picking out a film with a digital copy. With a digital version, you must now add twenty minutes to download it.

More time is wasted with digital media by waiting for the download to be completed. With an average internet connection, a two-hour, high definition movie takes at least twenty minutes to download. By the time it eventually finishes, your interest in watching the film has left. Digital media viewing is much slower than physical media viewing when there isn’t a particular movie in mind to watch. Digital media offers very little in value, especially at its cost.

Spiderman home media
Courtesy of IntotheSpiderverse.Movie

Let’s examine a high selling movie, SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, and consider its digital counterpart. A digital copy of the film will cost $20. Paying a measly two dollars less will trap you with a valueless, contracted product attached to only one account. Borrowing or sharing this digital movie is strictly prohibited.  Even bringing your copy over to watch at a friend’s house requires another tedious download again. Digital copies hold zero value once attached to an account and can never be traded or exchanged between the two parties. Physical media, however, is beyond flexible with its multi-layered value.

Physical Media’s Fantastic Value

4K Ultra HD copy of SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERE comes with multiple formats to experience. Included in it’s $30 price tag are a 4K, Blu-ray, and digital copy of the film. For only ten dollars more, the purchase consists of three separate versions of the film. Two of these formats are even sharable. If two of your friends and you prefer different formats for your viewing experiences, a physical copy is the best way to go. At $10 a copy, three different people can own the same movie at the same time without being restricted to a single account.

Digital Copies of Blurays
Courtesy of iMore.com

Additionally, a physical copy of a movie also includes a digital one as well. For over a decade now, physical copies of movies have offered digital codes to redeem as well. Buying a physical copy of a film will also give you a digital version as well. There is no need to pick a format when purchasing a physical copy; both sides are available to enjoy. No matter your preferences on digital versus physical content, there is no reason to pass up on the fantastic value physical media offers. Holding a physical disc for a fast selling product will always be more rewarding than downloading a film.

The physicality of having a movie in your hands is much more reliable compared to streaming and downloading speeds. Not every viewer has the luxury of fast bandwidth speeds and an unlimited amount of storage space on their devices. Sectioning off a small amount of space in your household for a collection of DVDs and Blu-rays will instantly be reliable anytime you need it. Physical media will always be available to use the moment you need it.

The Physical Evidence of Physical Media

All the different formats
Courtesy of Zappiti.com

Walk into any store selling electronics; you are going to find DVDs, Blu-rays, and 4K movies on the shelves. Physical media is straightforward to find. Stores like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target have shelves right next to their entrances for easy pickup. From new releases to classic films, their physical counterparts are still widely available. The end of the entire physical format is far from going extinct. Three generations of physical media discs are always on the market. Even standard definition DVDs still release to this day after two decades on shelves.

The ultimate way of judging the death of a format is the decrease in movies released on the said format. When consumers stop buying movies on the format, home distributors cease production on newly released movies on it. The last format to go distinct were VHS tapes after three decades of production. The format was abandoned after so many years because DVDs were outselling them more and more every year. The last VHS movie to hit shelves was A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE in 2006. Since then, DVDs have become outdated and is slowly reaching its extinction point. However, the format keeps turning out new release movie even with high-quality versions available.

Right next to the high definition 4K and Blu-ray discs are DVD copies of the latest blockbusters of 2019. A format invented and developed in 1995 still releases the most recent blockbusters on its 720p video capacity. There is even a market for the format, as distributors would stop producing DVDs if they weren’t selling well anymore. Anyone declaring the end of all physical media needs to consider how many formats back are still being sold. On the most basic level, physical media has three more formats of life left before it’s total extinction.

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