Is the End of Physical Media Inevitable? - Page 13 - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: Is the End of Physical Media Inevitable?
Yes, physical media will quickly disappear altogether 24 2.22%
Yes, physical media will slowly disappear altogether 203 18.76%
No, new physical formats will continue to be developed 378 34.94%
No, but physical media will become a niche market for enthusiasts 477 44.09%
Voters: 1082. You may not vote on this poll

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Community News & Polls > Is the End of Physical Media Inevitable?
comfynumb's Avatar comfynumb 05:09 PM 04-22-2013
My faith in humanity had been renewed biggrin.gif Like I do, many of you prefer a good quality disc rather than an overly compressed download or stream. When they stop releasing music/movies on discs they need to have better downloads/streaming available. Video is getting closer but audio quality is lagging behind. Our home theatre and dedicated two channel systems are more revealing than ever before. So yeah are you listening music/movie companies? Not all of us listen to all our music through earbuds or watch all our movies on a laptop.

size14d's Avatar size14d 05:10 PM 04-22-2013
Talk about a subject that gets people arguing. I think physical media is on the decline. I see an inverse relationship of the increasing access, lower price and increased quality of high speed internet access (along with raised data caps) to the decline in popularity of physical media. I can take my VUDU, NetFlix, Amazon, Epix, HBO GO, Max Go, etc libraries anywhere that has cell or wifi. The quality gap continues to narrow. Reviews of the best services on sites like CNet say that while there is a gap, that streaming is looking better than what is on 1080i cable and satellite. Streaming and digital content have a lot to offer and their popularity will increase. I see owning physical media as heading toward being a niche market, its going the way of having a land line phone or owning vinyl records.
montybritton's Avatar montybritton 05:14 PM 04-22-2013
I do not forsee this happening. Blu ray offers much better video and audio than streaming can ever provide. I don't want to settle for less. I know so many people are into cramming so much music onto an ipod or such, where I would want the highest resolution from music (DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD) and this is only possible from a hard disk. I was impressed when DVD took off as quick as it did back in 1997. That proved that people either wanted better quality or more smaller format to watch movies. I am not satisfied with the way blu rays are authored. I still believe that HD-DVD would have been a better format. Once blu ray won the "format war" the format just seemed to do enough just to get by (like not using 50GB disk and purest audio) where most titles looked like DVD upscaled with Dolby Digital as its soundtrack. Times have changed and for the better for this high resolution format. They are producing some awesome discs now and hope the format only gets better with time now that most films are being filmed digitally.
bitstarved's Avatar bitstarved 05:14 PM 04-22-2013
Hi Scott/members,

I have been directly involved in physical media since 1992, so 20 years. I have recently quit my job making DVDs and 3D Blu-rays. It was a tad premature, but I needed to move on. 3D drove me nuts.
There have been many excellent points made here and certainly this is a complex subject, but I like to separate it by audio (music) and video (movies).

Audio:
1) The bandwidth is there for audio right now. Despite my best intentions of pushing high bitrate audio, I believe most people can't really hear the difference between a good 256kbps file and 96k/24 bit file/disc. Double blind tests at a major record label proved that to me. The mastering engineers couldn't tell the difference. (That said, I strongly believe good mics, proper recording techniques, lack of dynamic compression, 5.1 surround, good speakers and a good room all make a huge difference). We have reached the point where the tech has outstripped our sense of sound. This has not quite yet happened in video.
2) People do love to own things and collect in general. Cover art and liner notes are awesome. But I do see this fading fast for the newer generations. I just ripped 2000+ CDs and I am so happy to put those bulky things away.
3) People listen to music over and over again. And they listen to it everywhere, on the go. This leads to using streaming and portable files.
4) The record labels have all but completely lost control over the IP of music. Streaming and downloads are the only way they are clinging to any profit model at all.
Audio Conclusion: There is no reason for DVD, DVD-A SACD, Blu-ray (music), CDs and Vinyl to exist anywhere except for the collectors and the niche (like surround listeners). The people who buy these formats often have a lot of money for expensive systems and are therefore the definition of a niche. Sad but true, heavily compressed files are already the norm and physical media for music is already a niche.

Video:
1) The bandwidth needed to make my eyes happy is barely here in the US and it is going to be a long time before it is widespread in the the US. This is not Japan. We are a big country and it could easily take 5 years before everyone has a big pipe for streaming quality 1080p video. And downloading a few GBs is still time consuming with a medium pipe. Perfect 1080p satisfies my eyes, but only at certain distances/screen sizes, so 4K is viable for big screens. When 4K is widespread, the tech will have outstripped our sense of vision. While I am always amazed at each new generation of video codecs, how much better can it get? Netflix and Amazon looks like crap to me. Even FIOS (TV) looks just OK quite often.
2) People still love to collect movies too, but not as much. I don't see people reading liner notes and looking at cover art on movies. Even some of the older generations don't care to collect movies.
3) For the most part, people do not watch movies over and over again. The are very few TV shows I ever want to watch again. The obvious exception are kids movies. You don't need to collect movies. People generally watch it only in their homes and don't care about the quality as much when on the go. So it doesn't need to be portable like music. If the quality of a good DVD is there, most people would be happy with streaming and download services.
4) The movie studios will do everything in their power to control their IP. Of course, it is a losing battle, but a battle they will fight forever. Everything tech they have made has been cracked and making a copy of a Blu-ray is trivial. So they want to get rid of physical media in hopes they can control the security better. And they want to get 4K moving. If I have learned anything, this industry must have something new to push (it's just that I can't think of anything we could possibly need after we get glasses free 3D 4K 192k/24bit/7.1). And of course physically distributing media to brick and mortar stores is a PITA.
Video Conclusion: The movie studios want physical media movies to go away and the people's viewing habits are more than ready to have it go away. But the poor Internet speeds (at least in the US) and the fact that 4K is a real improvement over 1080p (under some conditions) will keep those shiny discs or USB stick kiosks around a bit longer. But then they too will slowly become a niche.

The most important factors to me are the limits of the sense of sound and vision. We are way past it with audio and almost there with video.
BiggAW's Avatar BiggAW 05:17 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by msheabel View Post

As many have said. Streaming quality is poor at best. REALLY DISAPPOINTING. It's great for Dora the explorer for the kids. But main movie watching is FAR FAR behind.

I'm sorry that you're stuck in 2005 and haven't seen HD online, much less VUDU HDX.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bokes View Post

You can't re-sell a download on Ebay, Amazon, or an old fashion garage sale.

This is why I rent. Cheaper, and I don't have to worry about actually owning it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyMc View Post

[*] Streaming doesn't offer 1080P, 3D, 7.1 or combination depending on title and/or service compared to physical.

3D is stupid and pointless. VUDU HDX is 1080p, and can do 7.1, even though it's currently only implemented on a handful of movies.
Quote:
Originally Posted by von Levi View Post

Also keep in mind that 1/3 of Americans don't have broadband, so downloading and streaming isn't even an option for them.

And most of that 1/3 is passed by cable, FTTN, DSL, or FTTH, so it's their own fault if they're stuck in 2000. Also, with 300GB of bandwidth, you can do plenty of streaming and not worry about the cap. I'm not defending Comcast, but from a pragmatic perspective....

I'm shocked how many people use RedBox, so that may be a sign of how unsophisticated the average consumer is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by skibum5000 View Post

I hope to heck not for a million reasons:

1. what a frickin tragic waste of internet bandwidth. Everyone has to suffer from miserable speeds for things that wouldn't make sense for physical distribution just so people can stream movies in sub-standard quality (audio and visual) and then we have to listen to them complain about how their fancy new HDTV barely looks better than their old SD set and that HD looks barely better than DVD, if even. Really???

2. as already mention in point one, the quality is poor, many people only get 1-7Mbps typical internet speed and that is a far cry from 20-40Mbps of physical media (and we aren't even talking 4K yet!), at least in the U.S. we are sooo, soooooooo far from the age where we have the bandwidth to stream 7 channel lossless audio and physical media quality compressed 2K video never mind 4K, one day we will get there but that appears to be a long way off still, and don't forget that is for ONE stream with zero bandwidth left over for anything else so we need a good 120Mbps, constant, all times of the day, to every home before it begins to even make sense for 2K video and more like 500Mbps, if not more, for 4K.

even once we get 500Mbps to every home all the time with ease:

3. what about extra? various cuts? commentaries?

4. distribution rights change, rights get fought over, suddenly maybe a ton of your favorite shows/films are gone for who knows how long until the lawyers fight it out

5. storage space and distro cost money so even if homes have 500Mbps it will be a long while until the streaming companies feel the pressure to deliver physical media copy levels of quality, maybe a LONG while and they may also cut losts of shows/films they decided are too obscure to waste space/bandwidth with


It's just nice to know that once you have the disc you have the disc. The title won't disappear. Your preferred cut might not disappear. And you get top quality audio and video and extras. Some people go insane of special edition cuts or original cuts, maybe the one streaming is the cut you don't care for and you are stuck with it for who knows how long.

OMG! Graphics. They're a TOTAL waste of bandwidth. We only have 300 baud! The end of the world is coming! Deja Vu. Guess what? DOCSIS 3.1 is coming, when fully built out, it will do gig symmetrical over coax, they can push 10 or even 40gbps fiber out into the neighborhood, FTTH can do gigabit already.

Many places could stream 4k video with 11.4 DTS. I could right now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GHafer View Post

Enthusiasts, by nature, are collectors. As others have noted, look at the resurgence of vinyl for its collectibility and its superiority to other media, at least in the ears of collectors. If we lose physical media, we lose 11.2 surround, master audio, 4k resolution possibilities. Just look at the pathetic delivery speeds (and dependability) offered by ISP, let alone their their expensive rates.

You are factually wrong. Over half of the US has access to internet connections that are capable of streaming 4k HEVC video with whatever you want packed in there, including 11.4 DTS audio, all the extras you can watch, and more. It's just a matter of developing a service to do it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noonin View Post

AT&T got rid of unlimited streaming for their wireless phone plans because of people streaming movies and videos. The bandwidth just couldn't handle the throughput. Is the wired infrastructure to our homes any better at handling everyone streaming movies to their TVs? At this time I doubt it...at least in more rural areas. Not to mention the crappy selection of movies Netflix has available to stream, (though that may change if they lock up more agreements with the studios)

What do 3G cell phone networks have to do with anything? HFC can handle the load.
Quote:
Originally Posted by skibum5000 View Post

1. And that is actually quite the exception for the US. I've lived within 30 miles of Boston and NYC and never had any service come close to that.
2. $70 a month for internet alone is pretty steep price
3. even with your bandwidth you can handle ONE blu-ray stream at a time and zero 4K
4. you are stuck with whatever cut of a movie they deliver and likely zero option for extras or commentaries and the selection available can change at any moment (netflix streaming is missing tons of things)
5. the quality streaming services are willing to put out always lags quite a bit to what bandwidth customers may have available, they don't want to pay to store or stream blu-ray quality now even for people who have the internet bandwidth to handle it (look how long it took music downloads to move even a little above a pitiful 128kpbs compression rate!)

1. Within a year, all of Comcast's footprint will have 50mbps internet.
2. I'm paying around $55-$60 for Blast!
3. I'll be the first in line for $70 gigabit. If they run FTTH gigabit, $70 will seem cheap
4. They could include this stuff digitally. No technological barrier there.
5. VUDU is already doing Blu-Ray quality streaming through HDX. The movies are a whopping 6-10GB each.
Quote:
Originally Posted by von Levi View Post

It's not just rural areas. ISPs only buildout the highest speed infrastructure in neighborhoods where a large proportion of residents have the means to pay for the highest speeds. So even in major cities there's no FIOS, for example, in lower income neighborhoods. Google is also being selective about the neighborhoods that it is installing its high speed internet in.

Fiber has redlined, but not HFC. The way it's franchised, it covers everyone, and when they upgrade a system, the whole system gets upgraded, not just one part of it.

What might not let physical media die is humans' desire to physically have something, and to collect it, just like we collected food for the winter for the past 200kya since we evolved from Homo whatever the heck we evolved from (habilis maybe? Or erectus? I get them confused).
AimHere's Avatar AimHere 05:18 PM 04-22-2013
There are many reasons why physical media will never go away:
  • Broadband Internet speeds and availability continue to grow at a snail's pace, at least here in the USA. Many rural areas may never see affordable, reliable high-speed service (not even 4G wireless).
  • Where decent broadband IS available, the ISPs and wireless carriers usually impose usage caps, restricting the amount of content (video and audio) customers can realistically consume each month. And some of these caps are ridiculously low. Stream or download enough movies and TV, and you can easily hit your cap.
  • Even when ISPs/carriers don't explicitly state a cap, their terms of service usually include a clause where the customer is forbidden from putting an excessive load on the network (and only the ISP/carrier knows what they consider to be "excessive"). So, you may think you can merrily stream hundreds of hours of video every month, until your ISP decides to throttle your connection and/or suspend your service.
  • The bitrate demands of HD video are such that you would have to have an insanely fast Internet service to get the best streaming quality. A Blu-Ray disc can push as much as 48 Megabits/sec of video and audio. The total bitrate may be even higher with other overhead. How many people actually have 50 Mbit/s Internet service? Since the vast majority of consumers don't, the content providers have to heavily compress the video to fit it into the TYPICAL broadband pipe. But compression is always lossy, and the video and audio simply can't approach the level of detail the display monitor may be capable of.
  • When someone goes to obtain any kind of digital media, they have to choose between renting/streaming or buying/downloading, depending on what it is and where they get it from. If they buy and download a copy, they have to store it locally somehow. If you download a lot of movies and TV shows (especially in HD), it can really add up. So, people either have to (a) keep investing in larger and larger hard drives (and run the risk of a drive dying and taking their media with it) OR (b) offload their digital files to some kind of PHYSICAL media (DVD-R, BD-R, etc.). (By the way, even hard drives are technically "physical media".)
  • Downloading purchased content takes time, and you can't really view files as they download, so you have to be patient, or do the downloading well in advance of when you plan to watch the content. OR, run to a store or kiosk and grab a physical disc.
  • Streaming only works when the network does. Congestion can occur at any time, at any place between the content provider and the consumer, and constant buffering/pausing/stuttering can be extremely frustrating. And where there's no network connection (e.g. you carry your cellphone into an area with poor service), there's no streaming at all.
  • Various playback problems can occur on any PC/laptop/tablet/smartphone, due to things like underpowered hardware, outdated or buggy drivers, improperly-installed codecs, hardware faults, overdue system optimization, malware infections etc. These kinds of problems are generally rare on dedicated players that use physical media (e.g. DVD and Blu-Ray players).
  • No online content provider has everything a person might want to watch or listen to. So you might find yourself setting up accounts with multiple providers, which means more hassle on your part.
  • And they all have different program/content guides, different playback systems, different control schemes, etc. (compare this to a typical Blu-Ray player which works the same way no matter who produced/distributed/sold/rented the content).
  • Finally, let's not forget that future digital formats (like 4K Ultra HD) will put even greater demands on the world's content-distribution infrastructure. Internet streaming of 4K content would require far more resources than most people would have available or would be willing to pay for, which pretty much leaves some kind of physical media as the most cost-effective means of obtaining it.

Somehow, I just can't see things like CDs and DVDs and Blu-Ray discs ever going away completely. Audio CDs may be relegated to niche markets, though, but video discs will always remain useful to plenty of mainstream consumers. (I'll concede that optical discs might eventually be replaced with some form of high-capacity flash media... but flash media is still physical media.)
steve ans's Avatar steve ans 05:18 PM 04-22-2013
I dread the end of physical media: the stability, the design, the permanence. Streaming and downloads is no doubt much cheaper for studios and distributors. However, there will be a market (myself included) for BD, DVDs, etc. I will hate to see that end. In my local Best Buy, the BD/DVD section has been relegated to the darkest, most poorly lit spot in the store. Sad.
bubbah's Avatar bubbah 05:19 PM 04-22-2013
at the end of the end user, only vinyl will remain because of the physicality as relates to the actual sound and the super-reality rendering with top notch gear although mid range stuff gives a very nice experience ...digital sound sounds to my ear like auto-tune is always somewhere in there... 35mm does fairly well for mastering ...and, of course, kodak is no longer so film is doomed ...I can't get over that...biggrin.gif
ripster's Avatar ripster 05:19 PM 04-22-2013
I've been in the music business for 40 years and have been quite surprised at the acceptance of the MP3. Although HD music has been introduced with CD like quality, the acceptance and availability is limited. It's interesting that with the onslaught of Beats and Premium headsets, a $50M market 5 years ago, now pressing the $900M mark, that folks wouldn't want quality. But not the case. So in essence, the CD will be history once the decay rate in hardware sales hits zero. My guess is 5-7 years - Apple and Autos are already giving the CD player the broom. I also guess if you want to consider 3.5 million units in vinyl last year a market for audiophiles, then they'll probably be somebody pressing the physical for a good many years, but it won't be the majors, they'll license it out.

Motion pictures are a bit of a different animal, although the studios are buying digital distribution companies like Big Macs. They saw Napster and iTunes take all the business and set pricing levels in music, so they don't want that to happen and become the 99 cent store that music currently is. Plus the decay rate on DVD sales has slowed a bit. I look to physical DVD's maybe lasting another 10-15 years in this market, but some of this guess is tech dependent. As broadband reach expands, I'm sure DVD's will go the opposite way, but new sets such as the 4K and who knows, may be reliant on physical goods to show their feathers, as broadcasters won't upgrade anytime soon, and keeps the format alive.

By the way, I just sold over 3000 Albums, CD's and DVD's that I had been collecting for over 30 years and have a great deal going on a DVHS player and tapes....
jmpage2's Avatar jmpage2 05:26 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmanderson View Post

You don't own it just because you have it in your physical possession. You're just carrying a license to play it back for personal use. For most people, sure, that's all they require. However, to assume that because you have it in your physical possession that you're somehow entitled to be able to consume it in any format you choose (ripping it and conversion to a mobile format, for example) that's debatable (Fair Use, etc.) Or, that you can depend on compatible digital players to be produced 40 or 50 years from now, well it's too far off to assume anything.

If you OWN it, you're entitled to sell it in any medium you deem fit, and as many times as you want, since it's a reproducible item. Since you only carry a license, you can certainly sell the physical disc on the used market, but whether or not you're entitled to be able to that is dependent on that license.

Someone made the comparison to a couch in another post, and really, it's not a fit comparison. You can resell a used couch, but content on an all digital medium never wears out (the physical media may, but that's not the same thing.) With a couch, you can't back it up and clone it and spit out a new couch that is identical to the original. You can try, but it's not going to be identical.

You are of course correct, but we are arguing semantics. It is very much worth noting that the studios have been reluctant to push the issue by trying to sue someone who has ripped a CD, DVD or Blu-ray for their own consumption. There are two laws in direct conflict there (first use and DMCA) and I think the studios are leery of how things would go.

Having said that, physical media is going away. Newer generations don't care. As someone else pointed out, the majority of people have little to no interest of watching the same TV show or movie more than one or two times. The lobby for the movie studios is extremely powerful and they will continue throwing money at congress until they get their way. As someone else pointed out, this has already completely happened in the video game market and the movie executives are eager to try the same thing.

When that happens, I will simply curtail my consumption of media greatly. I spend probably a grand a year on new release BD material (which I rip and store on my own server so I can watch it when I want and how I want and with excellent quality). I see myself spending a fraction of that for low quality stream/download garbage.

I might not "own" my DVDs and Blu-rays, but try stopping me from watching them when I want, how I want, loaning them out or re-selling them if I so choose.
Gradius2's Avatar Gradius2 05:29 PM 04-22-2013
I stopped using physical medias since 2007 now (converted almost all into HDDs). Keep in mind they (CD/DVD/Blu-ray) also won't last too long too.

CD-R last around 5 to 10 years (99% of them).
DVD-R is around 5 to 15 years (99% of them).
Blu-ray last 15 years and 30 years as max.

Blu-ray are still too new to really have a better data source on lifespan, but won't except over 30 years to be safer using them.

On HDD side you need to have a little RAID-5(0) or RAID-6(0) to be safer.

As for streaming, this will only be a true reality when we all have Optical cables for Internet with 1Gbps at least.

But to me RAID solution (until something better pops up) will be forever for my digital needs (audio, videos, movies, etc).

Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD-R

Look @ Lifespan
von Levi's Avatar von Levi 05:34 PM 04-22-2013
While I agree with everyone that physical media isn't going anywhere with movies, music doesn't have the same quality-bandwidth issues. That is, labels are already selling high resolution multi-channel downloads, including multi-channel DSD files, so you can get the exact same sound quality you'd get from a SACD disc -- they're giving you the same data file that's on the SACD.

But I see several hold ups.

1) With high resolution downloads, SACDs are always cheaper than the download. I assume it's because there needs to be enough bandwidth to accommodate at acceptable speeds many people simultaneously downloading files that are several gigs in size -- it can't be so slow that it takes 5 hours to download a high res albulm.
2) The SACD disc includes a CD layer which I can rip to my iPod; with the high res download all I get is the high res multi-channel file.
3) The software and hardware options are a bit of a mess for pushing high res and especially multi-channel files to your DAC. What I'd like to see is a cheap blackbox that sits on my network, pulls files off a hard drive, pushes them to my DAC via HDMI, and I control playback through an app on my iphone.
4) There's no secondary market with downloads. If I never listen to a CD/SACD (or watch a DVD/Blu-ray) I sell it, and on the other side, I've saved a lot of money over the years buying used.
Alex Atkin UK's Avatar Alex Atkin UK 05:36 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by darthrsg View Post

My take is that physical media will make a comeback of sorts. Far too many I know are trimming services due to the economy and internet is one of them. Additionally the tiered plans and data caps are working against the elimination of physical media, most don't like the fine/penalty nature of it.

Exactly, ultimately its just not proving very practical for a lot of people and I think slowly more people will realise they are being ripped off.

I think the new console generation is going to particularly hit home to people the limitations of digital distribution. In a few years time chances are we will no longer be able to download our PSN/Xbox Live purchases, nobody is going to be happy about that. There must be plenty of people who still play on their old Playstation and Playstation 2 games every now and again, let alone their old SNES, N64, etc. Its going to suck not being able to play on your old PS3/Xbox 360 games as all your rights are tied to your profile that ultimately will only survive as long as your memory card/HDD once the ability to transfer the DRM licenses is withdrawn from the servers.

Netflix already have removed TV shows I enjoy re-watching as they have to continually pay for the right to offer it, that doesn't happen if I own them on DVD/Bluray. Even games have been revoked when the developer has gone bust and all rights to distribute the title ceased, again not an issue if you can pick it up second hand.

There is so much content out there that had we adopted a digital only distribution years ago we wouldn't have access to today. Even piracy has played a part in preserving the past, for example there is a large collection of Amiga games available (legally) on the Internet that could never have been archived had the cracking groups not subverted the copy protection. One of those games I even lost my legit retail copy because the disk corrupted and the publisher no longer had the rights to send me a replacement, I obtained a cracked copy years later thanks to the Internet.

There is also the fact that as quickly as HDD sizes and broadband speeds increase, so are the resolution, bitrates and game content sizes, and the infrastructure isn't catching up quickly enough. The Wii U for example already has some games over 10GB in size but the console itself seems incapable of downloading over 17Mbit, no matter the speed of your broadband.

Its already been rumoured that the new Xbox might run a purely online service but will still be available at retail on optical media, effectively being used to compensate for poor broadband speeds. So even while many companies are trying to switch to a download model, optical media remains the only viable option for some people to get that content onto the HDD to play. Its kinda ironic in fact that many of us switched to consoles to avoid the constant "not enough HDD space to install" problems we suffered on PC, only to see things shift to digital and now run into the same issues again.

There are also people on low incomes that still play on games consoles, it may be their only outlet with limited funds to socialise. A download only, streaming, always on future is of absolutely no use to those people. They may buy a large percentage of their games/DVDs second-hand, use physical disk rentals, etc, but they still occasionally buy new releases at retail so shouldn't be simply dismissed. They are still customers, and lets not forget how useful word of mouth can be. They might not socialise as much as people with a lot of disposable income, but they are very vocal when they do, that is free advertising.

We are also forgetting the obvious, HDD/SSD/SD cards are still physical media.
Super XP's Avatar Super XP 05:37 PM 04-22-2013
1080p haven't even taken a foot hold yet, and we are now talking about 4K. I thing physical media will eventually stop, but at some point in the future, it will come back with a vengeance. I believe people will eventually get tired of streaming/downloading due to there limitations and security nonsense via DRM for example.

At this point, Blu-Ray needs to stay on top of the game by offering cheaper prices, especially on new releases.
techman707's Avatar techman707 05:37 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by bitstarved View Post

Hi Scott/members,

I have been directly involved in physical media since 1992, so 20 years. I have recently quit my job making DVDs and 3D Blu-rays. It was a tad premature, but I needed to move on. 3D drove me nuts.
There have been many excellent points made here and certainly this is a complex subject, but I like to separate it by audio (music) and video (movies).

Audio:
1) The bandwidth is there for audio right now. Despite my best intentions of pushing high bitrate audio, I believe most people can't really hear the difference between a good 256kbps file and 96k/24 bit file/disc. Double blind tests at a major record label proved that to me. The mastering engineers couldn't tell the difference. (That said, I strongly believe good mics, proper recording techniques, lack of dynamic compression, 5.1 surround, good speakers and a good room all make a huge difference). We have reached the point where the tech has outstripped our sense of sound. This has not quite yet happened in video.
2) People do love to own things and collect in general. Cover art and liner notes are awesome. But I do see this fading fast for the newer generations. I just ripped 2000+ CDs and I am so happy to put those bulky things away.
3) People listen to music over and over again. And they listen to it everywhere, on the go. This leads to using streaming and portable files.
4) The record labels have all but completely lost control over the IP of music. Streaming and downloads are the only way they are clinging to any profit model at all.
Audio Conclusion: There is no reason for DVD, DVD-A SACD, Blu-ray (music), CDs and Vinyl to exist anywhere except for the collectors and the niche (like surround listeners). The people who buy these formats often have a lot of money for expensive systems and are therefore the definition of a niche. Sad but true, heavily compressed files are already the norm and physical media for music is already a niche.

Video:
1) The bandwidth needed to make my eyes happy is barely here in the US and it is going to be a long time before it is widespread in the the US. This is not Japan. We are a big country and it could easily take 5 years before everyone has a big pipe for streaming quality 1080p video. And downloading a few GBs is still time consuming with a medium pipe. Perfect 1080p satisfies my eyes, but only at certain distances/screen sizes, so 4K is viable for big screens. When 4K is widespread, the tech will have outstripped our sense of vision. While I am always amazed at each new generation of video codecs, how much better can it get? Netflix and Amazon looks like crap to me. Even FIOS (TV) looks just OK quite often.
2) People still love to collect movies too, but not as much. I don't see people reading liner notes and looking at cover art on movies. Even some of the older generations don't care to collect movies.
3) For the most part, people do not watch movies over and over again. The are very few TV shows I ever want to watch again. The obvious exception are kids movies. You don't need to collect movies. People generally watch it only in their homes and don't care about the quality as much when on the go. So it doesn't need to be portable like music. If the quality of a good DVD is there, most people would be happy with streaming and download services.
4) The movie studios will do everything in their power to control their IP. Of course, it is a losing battle, but a battle they will fight forever. Everything tech they have made has been cracked and making a copy of a Blu-ray is trivial. So they want to get rid of physical media in hopes they can control the security better. And they want to get 4K moving. If I have learned anything, this industry must have something new to push (it's just that I can't think of anything we could possibly need after we get glasses free 3D 4K 192k/24bit/7.1). And of course physically distributing media to brick and mortar stores is a PITA.
Video Conclusion: The movie studios want physical media movies to go away and the people's viewing habits are more than ready to have it go away. But the poor Internet speeds (at least in the US) and the fact that 4K is a real improvement over 1080p (under some conditions) will keep those shiny discs or USB stick kiosks around a bit longer. But then they too will slowly become a niche.

The most important factors to me are the limits of the sense of sound and vision. We are way past it with audio and almost there with video.

I think you've summed it up nicely. Especially this comment: " For the most part, people do not watch movies over and over again." I have hundreds of movies, yet, I seem to find myself watching many of the same over and over again. While I might never get to watch most movies a second time, IT'S NICE TO KNOW THEY'RE SITTING ON MY SHELF IF I EVER WANT TO. Collecting is just embedded in my DNA and streaming is fine, AFTER I ALREADY HAVE IT ON MY SHELF.tongue.gif
steve ans's Avatar steve ans 05:42 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by AimHere View Post

There are many reasons why physical media will never go away:
  • Broadband Internet speeds and availability continue to grow at a snail's pace, at least here in the USA. Many rural areas may never see affordable, reliable high-speed service (not even 4G wireless).
  • Where decent broadband IS available, the ISPs and wireless carriers usually impose usage caps, restricting the amount of content (video and audio) customers can realistically consume each month. And some of these caps are ridiculously low. Stream or download enough movies and TV, and you can easily hit your cap.
  • Even when ISPs/carriers don't explicitly state a cap, their terms of service usually include a clause where the customer is forbidden from putting an excessive load on the network (and only the ISP/carrier knows what they consider to be "excessive"). So, you may think you can merrily stream hundreds of hours of video every month, until your ISP decides to throttle your connection and/or suspend your service.
  • The bitrate demands of HD video are such that you would have to have an insanely fast Internet service to get the best streaming quality. A Blu-Ray disc can push as much as 48 Megabits/sec of video and audio. The total bitrate may be even higher with other overhead. How many people actually have 50 Mbit/s Internet service? Since the vast majority of consumers don't, the content providers have to heavily compress the video to fit it into the TYPICAL broadband pipe. But compression is always lossy, and the video and audio simply can't approach the level of detail the display monitor may be capable of.
  • When someone goes to obtain any kind of digital media, they have to choose between renting/streaming or buying/downloading, depending on what it is and where they get it from. If they buy and download a copy, they have to store it locally somehow. If you download a lot of movies and TV shows (especially in HD), it can really add up. So, people either have to (a) keep investing in larger and larger hard drives (and run the risk of a drive dying and taking their media with it) OR (b) offload their digital files to some kind of PHYSICAL media (DVD-R, BD-R, etc.). (By the way, even hard drives are technically "physical media".)
  • Downloading purchased content takes time, and you can't really view files as they download, so you have to be patient, or do the downloading well in advance of when you plan to watch the content. OR, run to a store or kiosk and grab a physical disc.
  • Streaming only works when the network does. Congestion can occur at any time, at any place between the content provider and the consumer, and constant buffering/pausing/stuttering can be extremely frustrating. And where there's no network connection (e.g. you carry your cellphone into an area with poor service), there's no streaming at all.
  • Various playback problems can occur on any PC/laptop/tablet/smartphone, due to things like underpowered hardware, outdated or buggy drivers, improperly-installed codecs, hardware faults, overdue system optimization, malware infections etc. These kinds of problems are generally rare on dedicated players that use physical media (e.g. DVD and Blu-Ray players).
  • No online content provider has everything a person might want to watch or listen to. So you might find yourself setting up accounts with multiple providers, which means more hassle on your part.
  • And they all have different program/content guides, different playback systems, different control schemes, etc. (compare this to a typical Blu-Ray player which works the same way no matter who produced/distributed/sold/rented the content).
  • Finally, let's not forget that future digital formats (like 4K Ultra HD) will put even greater demands on the world's content-distribution infrastructure. Internet streaming of 4K content would require far more resources than most people would have available or would be willing to pay for, which pretty much leaves some kind of physical media as the most cost-effective means of obtaining it.

Somehow, I just can't see things like CDs and DVDs and Blu-Ray discs ever going away completely. Audio CDs may be relegated to niche markets, though, but video discs will always remain useful to plenty of mainstream consumers. (I'll concede that optical discs might eventually be replaced with some form of high-capacity flash media... but flash media is still physical media.)
These points make sense. Doing away with physical media will be a disaster and prove more costly to the consumer.
von Levi's Avatar von Levi 05:47 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by ripster View Post

I've been in the music business for 40 years and have been quite surprised at the acceptance of the MP3. Although HD music has been introduced with CD like quality, the acceptance and availability is limited. It's interesting that with the onslaught of Beats and Premium headsets, a $50M market 5 years ago, now pressing the $900M mark, that folks wouldn't want quality.

I think it's that people just don't sit-down in their homes and listen to music anymore. The premium headphones are being used by people on the go -- I see them in the subway all of the time.
comfynumb's Avatar comfynumb 05:54 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by von Levi View Post

While I agree with everyone that physical media isn't going anywhere with movies, music doesn't have the same quality-bandwidth issues. That is, labels are already selling high resolution multi-channel downloads, including multi-channel DSD files, so you can get the exact same sound quality you'd get from a SACD disc -- they're giving you the same data file that's on the SACD.

But I see several hold ups.

1) With high resolution downloads, SACDs are always cheaper than the download. I assume it's because there needs to be enough bandwidth to accommodate at acceptable speeds many people simultaneously downloading files that are several gigs in size -- it can't be so slow that it takes 5 hours to download a high res albulm.
2) The SACD disc includes a CD layer which I can rip to my iPod; with the high res download all I get is the high res multi-channel file.
3) The software and hardware options are a bit of a mess for pushing high res and especially multi-channel files to your DAC. What I'd like to see is a cheap blackbox that sits on my network, pulls files off a hard drive, pushes them to my DAC via HDMI, and I control playback through an app on my iphone.
4) There's no secondary market with downloads. If I never listen to a CD/SACD (or watch a DVD/Blu-ray) I sell it, and on the other side, I've saved a lot of money over the years buying used.



Hi, where are you buying your multi channel downloads? I've been pretty disappointed with the HD sites I've tried?
Kenneth Lee's Avatar Kenneth Lee 06:02 PM 04-22-2013
Hi Scott and All,

"No," I don't think physical media will ever go away (or at least not soon).

Here's one reason why:

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/02/22/xbox-live-cloud-services-down/


Sure it's only Microsoft and it's about their Xbox360, but until Cloud Services / Streaming / Reliability is 100%, there will always be people (like me! smile.gif that would prefer to NEVER deal with the hassle of "Oh great, the servers are down" or "My ISP is having problems" or "It's super slow right now" and that prevents me from watching a movie that I really want to see.

The physical medium is also really satisfying and visceral and meaningful.
HDTVGCL's Avatar HDTVGCL 06:03 PM 04-22-2013
Here's my take on this issue. I understand the concept of cloud storage, online streaming and any other future developments.
I absolutely buy physical media for storage sake and replay value at ANY time I desire to watch.
Think about it:
1) You can usually stream a movie,TV program, etc. (usually once) but what happens if it's taken out of the provider collection?
2) What if the provider decides to leave (bankruptcy) or bought out by another provider? Loss of media choices (due to new owners)?
3) What if your unable at home or at your provider to stream data due to ISP / provider servers?
4) What about the security issues with website and / or your credit card information being hacked?
5) What about future energy issues, no power no streaming.
6) Sure, you buy the physical product (usually once) but it's better video / audio quality playback.
7) I can take the physical media and use it in my iPad, etc.
8) If I decide to sell or trade the media, I can. Not same story with streaming.

I keep everything LOCAL so I'm not a bind if the internet, servers, power issues come crashing down.
imagic's Avatar imagic 06:09 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTVGCL View Post

Here's my take on this issue. I understand the concept of cloud storage, online streaming and any other future developments.
I absolutely buy physical media for storage sake and replay value at ANY time I desire to watch.
Think about it:
1) You can usually stream a movie,TV program, etc. (usually once) but what happens if it's taken out of the provider collection?
2) What if the provider decides to leave (bankruptcy) or bought out by another provider? Loss of media choices (due to new owners)?
3) What if your unable at home or at your provider to stream data due to ISP / provider servers?
4) What about the security issues with website and / or your credit card information being hacked?
5) What about future energy issues, no power no streaming.
6) Sure, you buy the physical product (usually once) but it's better video / audio quality playback.
7) I can take the physical media and use it in my iPad, etc.
8) If I decide to sell or trade the media, I can. Not same story with streaming.

I keep everything LOCAL so I'm not a bind if the internet, servers, power issues come crashing down.

No electricity but you're still going to be able to watch Blu-ray? I'm not sure you're right about that. I'm also curious how you "can take the physical media and use it in my iPad."


jordanlund's Avatar jordanlund 06:15 PM 04-22-2013
Here's the trick with digital media... it's only reliable as your data connection. So, sure, 3-10 MB MP3 files killed music CDs. Digital movies still haven't killed DVD because you need a really solid internet connection to pull that off.

As long as ISPs continue to throttle accounts and limit data to 250GB per month, high def movies will never have a digital replacement. Look at Sony's 4K digital service - 100GB downloads for a single movie. It's going to be a very, very long time before a digital connection in the US will be able to keep up with that kind of bandwidth.
rf75's Avatar rf75 06:17 PM 04-22-2013
I have bought media for close to 40 years, and still do. I also subscribe to Netflix digital, it's a great way to catch up on TV series. I am lucky that FiOS is available and at 35/35 can stream at 1080 nearly all the time (out on the Slingbox too). But if I like a movie enough to see it more than once I will buy it, and will continue to. It's the only way to be "sure" I can watch it again. Digital means I am at the mercy of the licensor and if they decide to pull it (cough Disney cough) then I cannot watch my favorite movie when I want to. I may never be able to watch it again unless I find a pirated, physical, copy.

The mass market has heard music from the radio since forever and so is unaware of the sound of high fidelity (of course there are exceptional radio stations, but not where you live). Hearing high fidelity is much more rare than it was a generation ago. Stereo stores that can really demo it are scarce outside the largest cities, and the sophistos gravitate now to the huge flatscreen with the 5 or 7.1 to impress rather than to hardware that can "only" do audio. And the source material, at least in popular music, has so often had the life mastered out of it ... why bother if it sounds almost as good on an iPod with $30 earbuds? Downloadable formats will serve the mass market, which has never cared too much about quality. Those demanding quality have always been a niche group. Though there was a time, in the last century, when high fidelity almost became mainstream ...

But the poll question also presumes ubiquity of adequate, affordable network bits and that is hardly a given. FiOS has become infertile due to lack of ROI sufficient to satisfy Verizon, and cable is a monopoly in most markets. Cable's incentive to keep increasing bandwidth tails off rapidly while the incentive to cripple video over IP, and keep raising prices while costs fall, is inexorable. There is no reason to think significantly more of the country will be wired with fiber to the home. Google's not in it to make money, and will sell off their gigabit markets when they get bored with them. The middle class is getting squeezed from all directions and there are too few of the really wealthy to make ubiquitous fiber happen. And there will never be sufficient bandwidth, widely available, for 4K at a price the mass market will bear. 4K will happen on some solid state medium, or perhaps a multi-multi layer optical format. Or maybe it will die the same slow death of 3D, except 3D didn't really cost much more to manufacture, while 4K takes some serious hardware.

Physical media will persist. Will there be players for it, is the real question.
sdpate's Avatar sdpate 06:22 PM 04-22-2013
I am torn, on the horns of a dilemma. All my life I cultivated the ultimate sound experience, the best video. My gear is tops, my TV capable of HD 3D.

Yet mostly I watch Netflix with the worst picture imaginable. Simply because of the variety of content and the cost.

This week we're packing to move to an apt, downsizing. I will take 800+ albums, 1000 laserdiscs, hundreds of CDs and DVDs - I can't part with them but I watch Netflix.

Convenience may trump quality
HDTVGCL's Avatar HDTVGCL 06:25 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

No electricity but you're still going to be able to watch Blu-ray? I'm not sure you're right about that. I'm also curious how you "can take the physical media and use it in my iPad."

Portable generators if it gets that bad or "Earth Day" electricity - wind power/solar power/water power, etc. Just looking at the extreme end of the issue. iPad, just a matter of using available software creating a movie file for iPad/iPhone/etc. products. Also, what about some movies that come with a digital copy or whatever name they call it. I buy 3D movies (if made available / have 3D TV) that usually comes with 3D/BD/DVD/Digital Copy or even BD's with a digital copy.
Also internet (broadband) is also very much lacking in the US as compared to rest of the world. Once out of the city, forget about Comcast, Verizon, etc. extending cable lines. Not cost effective.
luisdent's Avatar luisdent 06:25 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by rf75 View Post

I have bought media for close to 40 years, and still do. I also subscribe to Netflix digital, it's a great way to catch up on TV series. I am lucky that FiOS is available and at 35/35 can stream at 1080 nearly all the time (out on the Slingbox too). But if I like a movie enough to see it more than once I will buy it, and will continue to. It's the only way to be "sure" I can watch it again. Digital means I am at the mercy of the licensor and if they decide to pull it (cough Disney cough) then I cannot watch my favorite movie when I want to. I may never be able to watch it again unless I find a pirated, physical, copy.

The mass market has heard music from the radio since forever and so is unaware of the sound of high fidelity (of course there are exceptional radio stations, but not where you live). Hearing high fidelity is much more rare than it was a generation ago. Stereo stores that can really demo it are scarce outside the largest cities, and the sophistos gravitate now to the huge flatscreen with the 5 or 7.1 to impress rather than to hardware that can "only" do audio. And the source material, at least in popular music, has so often had the life mastered out of it ... why bother if it sounds almost as good on an iPod with $30 earbuds? Downloadable formats will serve the mass market, which has never cared too much about quality. Those demanding quality have always been a niche group. Though there was a time, in the last century, when high fidelity almost became mainstream ...

But the poll question also presumes ubiquity of adequate, affordable network bits and that is hardly a given. FiOS has become infertile due to lack of ROI sufficient to satisfy Verizon, and cable is a monopoly in most markets. Cable's incentive to keep increasing bandwidth tails off rapidly while the incentive to cripple video over IP, and keep raising prices while costs fall, is inexorable. There is no reason to think significantly more of the country will be wired with fiber to the home. Google's not in it to make money, and will sell off their gigabit markets when they get bored with them. The middle class is getting squeezed from all directions and there are too few of the really wealthy to make ubiquitous fiber happen. And there will never be sufficient bandwidth, widely available, for 4K at a price the mass market will bear. 4K will happen on some solid state medium, or perhaps a multi-multi layer optical format. Or maybe it will die the same slow death of 3D, except 3D didn't really cost much more to manufacture, while 4K takes some serious hardware.

Physical media will persist. Will there be players for it, is the real question.

Exactly. I want to "own" my movie disc to watch at my leisure. With streaming services you get the content they provide. That can change (and does ALL the time). Movies are constantly being dropped from netflix as they fail to re-negotiate contracts. My blurays never fail to be played when I want them to be played (barring extremely rare physical failure of a disc).

Quality is obviously a huge factor now for discs, but I believe the internet will one day catch up. Maybe not for eons, but one day. Even then, for the reasons mentioned I'd prefer a disc. Also, there is simply something gratifying about having a "collection" of music or movies. Digital copies just aren't the same. I have over 1,000 cds, "primarily" for the superior quality, but every disc is in itunes as a lossless rip and then on my ipod. I wouldn't get rid of them though. They contain memories, nice art, etc. They don't rely on computers to be working. As long as the format lasts you will always be able to find a cd player somewhere. Same for dvds. They're all over the place. But look at bluray discs. Most computers still don't have bluray drives or software.

Anyhow, the most compelling reason now would be quality for me, the second most compelling reason and more likely the only one in the future is content ownership (at least as far as the right to view).
whbrittain's Avatar whbrittain 06:31 PM 04-22-2013
What is overlooked in most discussions about physical media disappearing is that we still have a significant population in the US that do not have access to high speed internet. The US government has not stepped up to the plate to insure equal access across the country, as they did with electricity and telephones. I live in an area where the majority of the population has nothing faster than dial up internet (remember modems?) and no cell phone access either.
Friendly Fire's Avatar Friendly Fire 06:32 PM 04-22-2013
When I compare the PQ from my Oppo 103 against my Dish DVR or anything streaming, the Oppo wins. Sure, a weak disc will not impress, and the Dish DVR is very good, but I agree with others, for the next many years those of us without gigabit fiber to the house will have better viewing with physical media.
Chuckindenver's Avatar Chuckindenver 06:37 PM 04-22-2013
I say with mixed feeling I believe the development of new physical media is over but it will still remain as a niche market, just like LPs. For me, when the MP3 killed SACD, it was so sad--SACD had better sound quality and for me as an audio enthusiast it was heartbreaking to see better sound quality get defeated by an inferior but convenient digital format. Then I discovered the perks of having every single track of my CD collection right at my fingertips. Not to mention the perk of being able to buy more music anytime I want--even 2am on Christmas day. There's also the possible perk of less-hassle upgradability--with digital formats, a newer and improved upgraded format could be released at anytime without a great need to purchase new expensive hardware to play it on.

As far as movies go, I definitely believe the future is streaming--possibly even the end of cable/satellite as well. It makes everything so much easier to be able to view whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want.
humbi's Avatar humbi 06:46 PM 04-22-2013
Streaming may stop to buffer ( inexcusable during a showing to a large group of friends in a home theatre), hardrives may and will eventually crash, or data may become corrupted. An optical disc will live a long time, at least a lifetime, and will always be available, at any time in one's collection. NO, they will NOT fade away, not for the serious film buff and collector!
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