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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


As the new Ultra HD Blu-ray players were announced last fall, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief. Physical media is going to live to see another day, I thought. It’s all in the bag for at least a few more years.

Or is it?

We’ve known for quite some time that the physical media sphere has been shrinking, and each time more evidence bubbles to the surface I cringe. I am, you see, a total home theater snob when it comes to movie content, stuck in a world where Blu-ray rules all. On the most basic of levels, I like being able to see and hold something that I own. And on the most complex of levels, I want a source that delivers optimal levels of video and sound with every film I throw its way.

Score two for Blu-ray.

The latest and greatest version of Blu-ray players began rolling out earlier this year with the market introduction of Samsung’s UBD-K8500 4K machine. Philips is gearing-up to deliver one of its own, soon, and rumor has it that other companies – including Oppo – will follow suit in 2016. But what does this really mean? Will Ultra HD Blu-ray explode onto the scene and cause consumers to demand content, or is it simply a stopgap as the industry shifts to 4K media servers and streaming services?

If I had to bet my money, it would be on the latter.

I live in a densely populated region smack-dab in the middle of the Washington-Baltimore metro area. Like the rest of the country, we’ve watched Hollywood Video and Blockbuster literally bite the dust. Next came Blockbuster’s online and kiosk forays, both of which barely existed, and the inevitable shrinkage of movie sections in large stores such as Target and Best Buy. A mainstay, however, for quite a bit of time has been Redbox.

Redbox is simple. You can find the company’s self-serve kiosks outside of convenience stores and double stacked inside of grocery stores nearly everywhere you go. They hardly ever have lines and renting a movie is ridiculously cheap. And while Redbox doesn’t have every new film at release, it has enough to make it an excellent source for renting movies. As it turns out, it’s also an excellent source for taking a pulse of what consumers truly want.

Recently, DigitalSmiths released 2015 data illustrating consumer content consumption, and the results sent a shiver down my Blu-ray spine. It shows that Redbox’s percentage of the consumer’s video consumption market is shrinking right along with the glaciers gracing the glorious terrains of North America’s mountainous lands. At the beginning of 2015, Redbox held a healthy 18.5-percent share of the video market. In fact, Redbox represented the largest single source of any part of the rental segment (which, aside from Redbox, is practically composed of online/streaming options). Turn the page to Quarter 4 and Redbox’s market share had fallen nearly 5-percent to a smidgen over 13-percent.

That’s a fairly steep decline in a rather short period of time.

The year-to-year revenue numbers aren’t any better. Last month, Outerwall (Redbox’s parent company) posted Redbox revenues of $407 million during Quarter 4 of 2015, which was down nearly 24-percent from the year before ($490.7 million). From a pure rental perspective, the numbers look like this: Q4 2015: 135.8 million rentals, Q4 2014: 179.5 million rentals.

Obviously, if you’re a disc lover like me, these numbers aren't what you want to see. In fact, they’re downright depressing. Perhaps they are more indicative of the rental market as a whole, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they truly represent something much larger. If Redbox’s much publisized interest in taking a second stab at the streaming market is any indication, then outlook for disc-based media isn’t good.

This brings me to a question for you, kind readers. How do you consume your media? Do you have a preference? Are you amendable to a shift to downloadable/streaming media? Are you already practically 100% streaming? I’m curious to see where HTS members fall on this issue.

Image Credit: Redbox
 

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I echo your preference on having a physical disc as I'm a collector. I also agree that physical media is nearing its end of life cycle. It won't be much longer and we'll have no choice but to embrace the world of streaming media.
 

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Absolutely must have physical media, streaming is still lousy (particularly on the audio side) compared to the actual disc. Sure, media takes up space and my collection is growing but I will deal with it.
 

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I purchase the physical media. I rip all of mine to my NAS... I am not 100% happy with streaming from online as sometimes at the beginning of a movie it is trying to sync the resolution, and sometimes you get minute pauses or pixels. I also want to be able to watch it whenever I want without using all my data (we have a TB limit per month). Right now we don't hit the limit, but if I was streaming movies as much as we watch them I would exceed the cap.
 

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I'm running under the assumption that the disc will be replaced by giant hard drive that we download to - then watch. Of course, this is already happening...just not on a wide scale.

My experience with streaming has been subpar to say the least. Acceptable for casual viewing...but the video/audiophile in me cringes while I watch.
 

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100% streaming via Netflix, Amazon Prime, Windows Movies, www.qello.com and www.concertvault.com. I find I rarely watch a movie more than once so buying BRD would just be a waste and there is not much of a selection at redbox.
I have a very high speed connection, use a projector at 1080P and upmix movies to Auro 3D or one of the other upmixers on my Marantz 7702.
 

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Streaming has been subpar for me as well. For casual viewing it's ok, but if it's demo, or reference it has to be on BD. Besides, does anyone remember liner notes? Love that stuff(of course BDs don't have much). There's just something about being able to hold on to the media.


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I buy much less physical media than I used to do. I really only buy movies that I want because of two reasons; I love the movie or it's a great film to flex my home entertainment system. Anything else I'll just stream.
 

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Living in a rural area my bandwidth strength is not very robust but I have streamed movies with limited success. The video quality contains pixelation while the & audio quality is underwhelming to say the least. My current routine is to buy BD's for the movies I plan on collecting on physical media. All other's are streamed.
 

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I too like physical media but if a movie that is a rental for me isn't at Redbox then Vudu usually works well for me. All I can say is that if discs go away then I will buy the leftovers at bargain prices and increase my library. I buy movies to watch of course but I like having them in case I have company over. I let them choose a movie and show off my HT. It is allot of fun.
 
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Just swallowed hard and subscribed to scamflix (I mean netflix) after a three year hiatus. I was one of those loyal long term physical media customers that they decided to give the royal shaft to and more than double my monthly rates in order to continue my subscription. I simply cancelled and vowed never to go back. Now I have two teens in the home that insist on having it primarily for watching on their tiny portable screens. I started streaming a movie in the HT today just to see how it looked. Looks and sounds like crud is about all I can say.

The problem is the majority has no interest in high quality video and audio. That's the really bad news for those of us wanting the best picture and sound we can get on our big screen's. My kids, and even my wife now, are perfectly content to watch on a hand sized display. My daughter has a really nice 32" LCD and Roku in her room but she will still watch most all of her programming on her phone instead. I don't get it and must be weird as I am definitely the odd man out in our household. I pray physical media sticks around for some time to come but if not guess I can turn the HT into a golf/baseball/bowling simulator.
 

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Just swallowed hard and subscribed to scamflix (I mean netflix) after a three year hiatus. I was one of those loyal long term physical media customers that they decided to give the royal shaft to and more than double my monthly rates in order to continue my subscription. I simply cancelled and vowed never to go back. Now I have two teens in the home that insist on having it primarily for watching on their tiny portable screens. I started streaming a movie in the HT today just to see how it looked. Looks and sounds like crud is about all I can say. The problem is the majority has no interest in high quality video and audio. That's the really bad news for those of us wanting the best picture and sound we can get on our big screen's. My kids, and even my wife now, are perfectly content to watch on a hand sized display. My daughter has a really nice 32" LCD and Roku in her room but she will still watch most all of her programming on her phone instead. I don't get it and must be weird as I am definitely the odd man out in our household. I pray physical media sticks around for some time to come but if not guess I can turn the HT into a golf/baseball/bowling simulator.
You've just nailed the big picture problem. We are the minority in wanting the best audio/video experience. It will be there for us but we'll pay a premium. I'm ok with that as long as the experience mimics what physical media provides.
 

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I'm running under the assumption that the disc will be replaced by giant hard drive that we download to - then watch. Of course, this is already happening...just not on a wide scale.

My experience with streaming has been subpar to say the least. Acceptable for casual viewing...but the video/audiophile in me cringes while I watch.
I believe that is what is currently being done in Theaters.
 

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I've resigned myself that the discs will disappear in the not-so-distant future when once I thought hey not in my lifetime! Streaming quality isn't quite bluray quality for me, but most times it's pretty good but I'd still rather use a disc. Been with Netflix since the beginning of disc rentals, wonder when they may draw the line and just support their streaming, obviously they were getting ready to a while back when they split the site. Will optical discs later get a revival like vinyl for nostalgia's sake?
 

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Most of the disc rental places in my medium sized city have disappeared. There is one left. Biggest thing killing it, is the potential for late fees. I hate paying $10 for a movie I watch once. You don't have to worry about that with streaming. Of course I always question the quality of streaming though. The absolute worst thing about streaming is when you run in to network/buffering issues. Nothing is worse that having a movie stop and go for 15 minutes or even once during a critical scene. Then theres the issue of actual ownership, like with iTunes songs. You can't resell or trade them and in the event of your death they disappear into the ether that is the internet locked to your account.
 

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I prefer owning the physical media. Having said that, lately I haven't had the opportunity to really sit down and watch a movie in quite a while. For optimal sound and picture, disc is definitely needed. The problem for me with owning media is that most movies I will only ever watch once, thus renting is nice (but not as easy to find a place as it once was). I do buy animated movies in a semi regular basis because we all know kids can watch the same movie a hundred times!
If it is a nice 'audio' movie and nice picture, I have to watch it from physical disc.
Streaming(when working smoothly) does have the benefit of conveniece to watch it wherever and not having to have the disc with you to watch it.

I think previous posters have hit the nail on the head with the issue of ownership. With all this streaming, if the streaming service goes down, you have nothing to watch. Same thing with music with all these streaming services, etc....u don't own the music.

I am far from an audiphile or videophile, but I know a lot of people aren't as concerned with quality. Look at all the people not bothered by watching standard definition tv channels on their 65 inch and bigger screens! Or blaring their soundbars and speakers to distortion.

Physical media for me...but I feels like its time is limited. Everything is moving to being 'data' transmitted via IP. Maybe soon in the future the internet infrastructure will allow for everyone to get full quality BD, 4k content at the same quality as physical disc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
A lot of comments - kids that only care to watch content on their phones and tablets...etc - resonate in my world.

Truth be told people will chose convenience the vast majority of the time.
 

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A lot of comments - kids that only care to watch content on their phones and tablets...etc - resonate in my world.

Truth be told people will chose convenience the vast majority of the time.

I think for many this is true. I also think it's unfortunate. IMO, there's a fine line between convenience and laziness. If There's a title I'm interested in, I will drive to town 15 minutes away, to get a rental on redbox vs renting on satellite or streaming. I also make sure my kids pay attention to the reasons why I would do that and why it's worth it for them to do the same. OT: I also don't allow music blasting from cell phone speakers. It has to be plugged in, or via AirPlay or PS3. :nerd:


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A lot of comments - kids that only care to watch content on their phones and tablets...etc - resonate in my world.

Truth be told people will chose convenience the vast majority of the time.
Isn't that the reason we all have CDs vs vinyl?
 
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