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Is the End of Physical Media Inevitable?

Poll Results: Is the End of Physical Media Inevitable?

 
  • 2% (23)
    Yes, physical media will quickly disappear altogether
  • 18% (198)
    Yes, physical media will slowly disappear altogether
  • 34% (369)
    No, new physical formats will continue to be developed
  • 44% (470)
    No, but physical media will become a niche market for enthusiasts
1060 Total Votes  
post #1 of 920
Thread Starter 

As streaming and downloading services such as iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon gain popularity, many predict that physical media such as CD, DVD, and Blu-ray will eventually disappear. Others contend that physical media will never disappear because of their permanence—there's no chance of losing the data in a hard-disk crash—and, in the case of Blu-ray, generally superior sound and picture quality.

 

What do you think? Is the end of physical media inevitable, or will they survive the onslaught of online distribution?

post #2 of 920
I sure hope that physical media doesn't disappear. I love owning the movie & I have many places that I may like to play it in my house. I don't like the thought of having all of my movies in one place on a hard drive. The art work, the fact that it's mine, & the collecting are all parts that I love. People love to collect things so I don't see it going away any time soon.....at least I hope not. smile.gif
post #3 of 920
I wanna believe they will continue to make new formats so they can once again charge people to buy the same movies they already own on blu-ray or dvd but in higher bitrate and more pixels. H265 could mean lower bandwidth but I'm still convinced that it will take a pretty decent chunk out of my 20mbit connection to stream ultrahd.
post #4 of 920
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.
post #5 of 920
Unless there is an unprecedented breakthrough in compression technologies for streaming UHD formats the viability of delivering such content over the existing broadband infrastructure in the USA is extremely questionable. Couple that with an increasing trend in bandwidth quota caps and you have an environment that encourages "don't have to use my bandwidth and it won't take 2 days to get a full movie if I just go to a kiosk". As such, I believe that there will be sufficient commercial incentive to develop a physical medium for 4k content.

However, what I see happening is the development of format-secured devices to interact with HD vendor kiosks. I'd imagine it would play out something like this:

1. Industry pillars will develop competing but similar format storage in the form of high-capacity, content copy-protected 4TB USB 3.0 thumbdrives that can be loaded from a kiosk (like a RedBox) with the content having a timed expiry date and tamper protection.
2. You have to physically go to a 4k kiosk to "rent" and load your thumbdrive with 4k content, which is copied to the drive quickly.
3. You have to have a compatible 4k player device in your home (perhaps 1st party branded "RedBox 4k Player", or 3rd party compatible functionality in set-top boxes and gaming consoles) that interfaces with the 4k thumbdrive medium for playback.
4. There will still likely be some Internet connection required at the playback device level to do a security check on your thumbdrive device to validate that you haven't tampered with it and that the content locks are using the most recent industry issued keys.

I don't think we will see a widespread adoption of 4k Blu-ray, despite it being technologically possible.
post #6 of 920
The content providers will push and push and push streaming and downloadable media until physical media has been eradicated. Then they can completely control the dissemination of their content to ensure that you can't own it and can access it only in those contexts they deem acceptable, profitable, and convenient...for THEM. This issue has nothing to do with technology or quality. It's all about the studios and producers controlling their IP and, ultimately, charging for every viewing.
post #7 of 920
Quote:
Originally Posted by boblinds View Post

The content providers will push and push and push streaming and downloadable media until physical media has been eradicated. Then they can completely control the dissemination of their content to ensure that you can't own it and can access it only in those contexts they deem acceptable, profitable, and convenient...for THEM. This issue has nothing to do with technology or quality. It's all about the studios and producers controlling their IP and, ultimately, charging for every viewing.
That's certainly their goal. If they succeed, compression will be what ever is best for them.
post #8 of 920
I imagine physical media will eventually become a niche product but not for quite a long time just look at how long it took DVDs to outpace VHS'

CD's are still being sold for crying out loud

and the rest of the world still has to catch up so like i said it'll happen but not for a long time and will still remain a niche product in the end, look at vinyl records
post #9 of 920
Seeing as you can still buy Vinyl id say no. CDs will become a niche product like vinal for those that want a higher standard of quality. The only way it will outright die is if everyone starts offering up Bit-Perfect FLAC files for download. (music) and true BR rips with HD audio for video. and i don't see either of those happening anytime soon
post #10 of 920
^CD's are a higher form of quality?
post #11 of 920
I think several things will have to happen before physical media dies out:
1.) the majority of internet users would have to have access to faster internet at a reasonable cost with high or no caps.
2.) the quality of the music/video would have to be as good or better for a lower cost.
3.) storage and access would have to easy and affordable.
post #12 of 920
Another problem with streaming is availability of titles. What happens when a title is discontinued? Better hope you have plenty of backups! With physical media is doesn't matter if it's long discontinued, I can continue to enjoy my favorites as long as I have a functioning player (seems to me players are more reliable than HDs over time). I still have CDs that I purchased in 1982 and they still look and perform like new; some of which you simply cannot find these days.
post #13 of 920
Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post

^CD's are a higher form of quality?

There's nothing about CDs that prevent them from sounding fantastic. It's the crappy mastering thats the problem. wink.gif
post #14 of 920
Without a doubt it's a dying technology. It's cheaper for me here in Germany to pay for my 100MB internet connection and stream media then buying the actual media. Things like buying season passes for TV shows and movies, making them available whenever and wherever I am makes it much more appealing. Not to mention HD space and media centers like XBMC or Plex running on Raspberry Pi and NAS devices is becoming more standard and easier to use for the average user.
post #15 of 920
Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post

^CD's are a higher form of quality?

vs MP3s they sure are. and that's what the overwhelming majority of downloadable tracks are today. Its why i don't download music or stream it. I'm not paying for lossy quality.
Edited by Sibuna - 4/6/13 at 11:09am
post #16 of 920
I don't believe physical media will ever completely die out, though that seems to be the end goal. Too many reasons others have listed, but I agree with them. Bandwidth caps, quality degradation in compressed formats, the unreliability of backup storage for keeping all of these items for future enjoyment, etc, etc. There are so many people that want the physical item in their hands, so they can enjoy superior video and sound. I know quite a few music buffs that still buy most of their music on cd or vinyl. They like to own the artwork and read over the lyrics while listening to the music. Those people make up a big enough market that there will always be someone to cater to them. I myself am just now trying to educated myself on vinyl and I'm looking to acquire a turntable and such. In fact, I just visited a thriving music shop a few days ago that makes a killing selling nothing BUT vinyl. Physical formats will never become extinct. And thank God for that! My movie collection is 600-700 copies deep at the moment. Can you imagine the storage space I would need to possess all of those in high quality video/audio???eek.gif
post #17 of 920
Vinyl lives, though it's no longer what it used to be. The quality of actual material used to make it, the limited availability of quality lathes, etc. all yield a poorer product than what we saw just a few decades ago. The market has broken apart into those who prize flexibility over quality. So, we'll continue to see the growth of streaming over physical media.

Yet, as shown by some distributors, like HDtracks, there is clearly a market for quality downloads. It's just selective. That means many differing levels of compression.

I'd hoped to see Blu-Ray become a medium for high quality audio, but that hasn't happened. Maybe with the demise of Block Buster and other physical distributors of rental we'll see the media companies move in that direction to take up the slack, but I'm not holding my breath.

And over time, if people invest more in home systems, that don't simply put their main emphasis on video at the expense of audio, we'll see a burgeoning of demand for more overall quality. But as with all technologies over time, markets settle into patterns. For example, not everyone in the auto market either wants, let alone is willing to pay for, top of the line quality in a car. There will be a small segment who always desires to do so, and there will be companies interested in making that available in the video market -- thank you Criterion Collection! But even these companies must look to the bottom line. If and when bandwidth becomes both inexpensive and fast we may see distribution of films, as we do HDTRACKS for music. But for now, like many others, I'd rather choose a quality release, nicely packaged, that I'll revisit from time to time.

And our reliance on access to media streaming any time we want is not like turning on the tap for water. Today, and into the future, we'll still be at the mercy of network availability, server availability, and all other links in the chain. Most people today still want to be sure that what they buy is under their control, not some distant mega corporate cloud-based server in the 'net.
post #18 of 920
The future I see is one where online-delivery is the defacto standard. Physical media will persist for years to come, burning Blu-rays is just too easy and the used market is too large. However, the days when a new release depends on a disc to be delivered at the highest quality standard—that's going to end sooner rather than later. Within three years, the highest-quality format will almost always come from online-delivery. In a more limited sense, Sony's forthcoming offering on the PS4 has a chance at the crown this year.
post #19 of 920
I'll give you my Blu-ray disc when you pry it from my cold, dead hands

I have always wanted to say this and this seem like a good time even thought it adds nothing to this thread
post #20 of 920
I don't see why it would disappear.

Netflix and other streaming services are often touted as a replacement for physical media. I don't understand why people keep making that comparison. With the emphasis on convenience over premium quality, lack of a product to own, lack of bonus features etc., they have more in common with a replacement for television services.

There's room for both.
post #21 of 920
"Physical media will become a niche market."

Seems like it already has as far as CDs are concerned. I don't know anyone (other than myself) that even buys them anymore. I went to Best Buy a couple of weeks ago to pick up a CD. They had rearranged the store. Instead of the front of the store, CDs and DVDs had been moved to the far back corner. The CD selection was down to two isles. DVDs/BR four. I can remember the same thing happening to vinyl and cassettes and it wasn't long thereafter that they were pretty much gone altogether. The big difference is that there was another form of physical media filling in the vacated space - CDs.
post #22 of 920
Fraank Zaapa had this idea with cable tv in mind. But stated quite correctly that people have a touchy-feely thing, they want to hold the container and read liner notes, and know things about what they are listening to or watching. If it came to that, I would copy on to a physical method as a backup. I just do not trust digital storage, it's too suseptable to loss or coruption. The disc works for me. Vinyl will never go away, neither will the disc.
post #23 of 920
I think physical media will stay for a long time. Look at vinyl it's been around for decades and doubt that it is going anywhere soon.
post #24 of 920
Let's look at what's happening in video game industry as a bellwether. You can't even play the new Sim City game without being logged into their servers, even if you are playing against the computer! Content provides are going to push for increasing control which means having everything online through their servers in the cloud.
post #25 of 920
Quote:
Originally Posted by freychris42424 View Post

Let's look at what's happening in video game industry as a bellwether. You can't even play the new Sim City game without being logged into their servers, even if you are playing against the computer! Content provides are going to push for increasing control which means having everything online through their servers in the cloud.
I am not against buying online and using hard drives to store the content but the reality is the providers here either cap you or slow your service to a crawl if you exceed a certain amount also the pricing does not add up when it cost the same I would rather have the physical media now if the price was greatly reduced I could live with it.
post #26 of 920
There is little question in my mind that the days of physical media are coming to a close. It is my belief that we will see the end of physical media in music first, with CD's being phased out first. Ironically, LP's will probably be the last physical media standing, as I can see record labels continuing with them for the niche but ever going market that vinyl has become. However, with the advent of the 24/96 and 192 recordings and the amazing DSD recordings that are becoming available, downloads for me will be the best option. The DSD recordings I have heard have been stunning and more realistic that any LP I have ever heard and by a mile. For Music, streaming is the only way to go, IMHO. As for video, while I see Blu-ray as having a limited shelf life, I do not see streaming becoming dominant for several years. However, 5 years to 10 years from now, internet speeds will be so fast that you will be able to download 1080p films with lossless audio in 15 minutes or less. Once that is the case, Blu-rays will be phased out by the studios. if I were a studio, why would I want to continue with physical media at that point? Less production cost and greater copy protection and a larger potential revenue stream. Regardless of what the purist video buff wants, there will be a time when the studios will decide that physical media no longer makes sense. It will be a few years behind the demise of audio media, but it will happen. Probably a lot sooner that we think.
post #27 of 920
Until the content providers can come up with a SINGLE system that delivers the same quality that physical media delivers, then no.

I'm technologically adept, I have a file server with all of our blurays and dvd's on it. An HTPC that delivers media in our main viewing room along with other devices to deliver media around the house. Yesterday I finally decided to start using ULTRAVIOLET via VUDU to get some of my movies online for when I travel. I thought it would be a nice way to get access while I'm away from home. So I thought...

I now have accounts with four different studios that all ask me to enter codes in a different manner. I haven't finished all my UV ready discs yet....
I have at least TWO studios, Disney/Pixar and Warner Brothers, that use LOCAL digital copies, so I can't add them to any sort of online service for access....

What a Charlie Foxtrot this is....I was frustrated first by the number of accounts and methods necessary to get my movies into VUDU, then the fact that some of my digital copies are only available locally topped it off.

Then there's the need for at least 3 separate accounts to access other streaming media I own or may be able to rent. So now we add Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu+. With Hulu+ and Netflix. Contract issues guarantee that what I have access to one month, I may not the next, so that's a crapshoot too.

Now I'm at 9 accounts to watch streaming media....

Thinking about this, it's no wonder all my wife wants is Netflix and our local media library. She doesn't want to think about what movie is available on what service. I don't blame her one bit.

I can't imagine my parents going through this mess.
post #28 of 920
Oh, and as for album covers and the like, those will be made available on line so that you can have that stuff as well.
post #29 of 920
Quote:
Originally Posted by JWhip View Post

There is little question in my mind that the days of physical media are coming to a close. It is my belief that we will see the end of physical media in music first, with CD's being phased out first. Ironically, LP's will probably be the last physical media standing, as I can see record labels continuing with them for the niche but ever going market that vinyl has become. However, with the advent of the 24/96 and 192 recordings and the amazing DSD recordings that are becoming available, downloads for me will be the best option. The DSD recordings I have heard have been stunning and more realistic that any LP I have ever heard and by a mile. For Music, streaming is the only way to go, IMHO. As for video, while I see Blu-ray as having a limited shelf life, I do not see streaming becoming dominant for several years. However, 5 years to 10 years from now, internet speeds will be so fast that you will be able to download 1080p films with lossless audio in 15 minutes or less. Once that is the case, Blu-rays will be phased out by the studios. if I were a studio, why would I want to continue with physical media at that point? Less production cost and greater copy protection and a larger potential revenue stream. Regardless of what the purist video buff wants, there will be a time when the studios will decide that physical media no longer makes sense. It will be a few years behind the demise of audio media, but it will happen. Probably a lot sooner that we think.



Hi, the only thing I would say is that the higher bit rate downloads, even the highest ones on HD tracks are not anywhere near the quality of my best discs. Also have you looked at the selection on their site? There is barely any new music on there. Yea they are nice and convenient but I'm hoping people will want to keep quality around for along time. I see the specialized CD market adding to their catalog all the time.
post #30 of 920
Quote:
Originally Posted by robnix View Post

Until the content providers can come up with a SINGLE system that delivers the same quality that physical media delivers, then no.

I'm technologically adept, I have a file server with all of our blurays and dvd's on it. An HTPC that delivers media in our main viewing room along with other devices to deliver media around the house. Yesterday I finally decided to start using ULTRAVIOLET via VUDU to get some of my movies online for when I travel. I thought it would be a nice way to get access while I'm away from home. So I thought...

I now have accounts with four different studios that all ask me to enter codes in a different manner. I haven't finished all my UV ready discs yet....
I have at least TWO studios, Disney/Pixar and Warner Brothers, that use LOCAL digital copies, so I can't add them to any sort of online service for access....

What a Charlie Foxtrot this is....I was frustrated first by the number of accounts and methods necessary to get my movies into VUDU, then the fact that some of my digital copies are only available locally topped it off.

Then there's the need for at least 3 separate accounts to access other streaming media I own or may be able to rent. So now we add Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu+. With Hulu+ and Netflix. Contract issues guarantee that what I have access to one month, I may not the next, so that's a crapshoot too.

Now I'm at 9 accounts to watch streaming media....

Thinking about this, it's no wonder all my wife wants is Netflix and our local media library. She doesn't want to think about what movie is available on what service. I don't blame her one bit.

I can't imagine my parents going through this mess.



Wait until 4K starts to take off there will be even more sites Yeah I have a bunch of accounts too, it seems like I add an account for something at least once a month.
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