Is Ultra HD Blu-ray Doomed? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
View Poll Results: Is Ultra HD Blu-ray Doomed?
It's toast & sooner than you think 25 4.31%
It'll stick around for a while but it's doomed 140 24.14%
It'll keep being a niche option for major new releases, for years to come 307 52.93%
As more people buy 4K (and 8K) TVs UHD Blu-ray will make a comeback 108 18.62%
Voters: 580. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Is Ultra HD Blu-ray Doomed?

Is Ultra HD Blu-ray Doomed? This is, of course, a bit of a rhetorical question. No physical format lasts forever, technological progress guarantees obsolescence. But, with the recent news that Samsung has decided not to develop any more Ultra HD Blu-ray players and AV enthusiast favorite Oppo already having abandoned ship, the writing appears to be on the wall for 4K disc-based content.


Is this the future of Ultra HD Blu-ray? Photo from shutterstock.com

After several years on the market, Ultra HD Blu-ray still represents but a fraction of the total number of Blu-rays sold. Pragmatically speaking, even when a movie sells well on UHD Blu-ray, as is the case with effects-laden tentpole blockbusters, the percentage is around one quarter of the total. But on average, it's even lower than that. With streaming growing ever more ubiquitous, and consumers choosing regular Blu-ray over the 4K version of the movie—if they even watch movies anywhere but on Netflix anymore—there doesn't seem to be much hope for a format that costs the most and requires viewers to own a relatively new TV.

Ultimately, DVD stuck around for a long time because of the ubiquity of players and the wide selection of content. Blu-ray achieved significant success by bringing what most people feel are cinematic quality visuals into the home. But now, Ultra HD Blu-ray struggles even as it brings quality that exceeds what you might see at a local multiplex into the home.

Of course, the biggest fly in the ointment for Ultra HD Blu-ray is streaming. Namely, that streaming has improved in quality quite rapidly over the past few years and now, if you have fast Internet, it can deliver fidelity that meets or beats Blu-ray quality and can approach Ultra HD Blu-ray quality. Indeed, some comments on this forum indicate that it is only the fact that streaming utilizes compressed sound that keeps them from wholly embracing UHD streams over discs—especially for rentals.

Okay, that's the doom and gloom. Now let's consider why discs may stick around after all...

The Xbox One S and One X are Ultra HD Blu-ray players. They also enjoy significantly better market penetration than standalone players that don't play games. The simple fact that this console provides a large installed base of compatible players may be enough. Especially in consideration of how broadband Internet availability wanes as you get further away from urban centers. The continued viability of Redbox machines is one example of asymmetrical Internet availability and its effects on A/V consumer behavior.

Speaking of rentals, among proponents of physical media, one of the main arguments is that of ownership. The recent announcement that Ultraviolet (the digital locker service) is shutting down underlines a fundamental point: you don't really own anything in the cloud. Is the promise of owning a physical piece of media that contains your favorite movie in extremely high quality enough to keep Ultra HD Blu-ray afloat?

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post #2 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 07:53 AM
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I'm buying them as long as they make 'em!

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post #3 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 08:24 AM
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I agree with your initial supposition that 4k physical discs will eventually be supplanted, not by 8k discs, but streaming. While with sufficient bandwidth, streaming can look comparable to disc, audio is where discs really have the advantage, with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. I expect bandwidth to increase as time goes on, and take this advantage away, but for me, (heavily invested in a dedicated theater room), physical media is my format of choice at this time.


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post #4 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 08:41 AM
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I think Oppo, and Samsung, are leaving the 4K disc business because they see that disc players have become a commodity item.
I agree that streaming is the future. Houston now has 5G stationary from Verizon, and one of my neighbors has it. I would, too, except my location can't get a signal. Yet. As soon as it can, I'll get it. His measured, in home, wi fi speed is 5X the speed of his former "highest available" Comcast service. That is how 8K will be distributed. I have a full 4K/Atmos setup in both my HT and TV living room. I don't buy discs, I rent; because once I've seen it, I don't need to see it again. If Netflix were to offer 4K discs, I'd take them up on it in a heartbeat and that would certainly increase sales. I used to belong to the 4K disc rental supplier, but I dropped it when it's offerings seemed to be very heavy on "Superhero" titles; in which I have little interest. I've also noticed that a number of the Blu ray discs for new releases from Netflix are coming with Atmos. For me, that was the biggest draw to 4K discs; so it's increasing availability in 2K is just another nail in the coffin of 4K discs.

My opinion: 4K discs are a niche product now, and will be as dead as 3D sooner than later.
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post #5 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Is Ultra HD Blu-ray Doomed? This is, of course, a bit of a rhetorical question. No physical format lasts forever, technological progress guarantees obsolescence. But, with the recent news that Samsung has decided not to develop any more Ultra HD Blu-ray players and AV enthusiast favorite Oppo already having abandon ship, the writing appears to be on the wall for 4K disc-based content.



Ultra HD Blu-ray represents but a fraction of the total number of Blu-rays sold. Pragmatically speaking, even when a movie sells well on UHD Blu-ray, the percentage of is around one quarter of the total. But on average, it's even lower than that. With streaming growing ever more ubiquitous, and consumers choosing regular Blu-ray over the 4K version of the movie—if they even watch movies anywhere but on Netflix anymore—there doesn't seem to be much hope for a format that costs the most and requires viewers to own a relatively new TV.



Ultimately, DVD stuck around for a long time because of the ubiquity of players and the wide selection of content. Blu-ray achieved significant success by bringing what most people feel are cinematic quality visuals into the home. But now, Ultra HD Blu-ray struggles even as it brings quality that exceeds what you might see at a local multiplex into the home.



Of course, the biggest fly in the ointment for Ultra HD Blu-ray is streaming. Namely, that streaming has improved in quality quite rapidly over the past few years and now, if you have fast Internet, it can deliver fidelity that meets or beats Blu-ray quality and can approach Ultra HD Blu-ray quality. Indeed, some comments on this forum indicate that it is only the fact that streaming utilizes compressed sound that keeps them from wholly embracing UHD streams over discs—especially for rentals.



Okay, that's the doom and gloom. Now let's consider why discs make stick around after all...



The Xbox One S and One X are Ultra HD Blu-ray players. They also enjoy significantly better market penetration than standalone players that don't play games. The simple fact that this console provides a large installed base of compatible players may be enough. Especially in consideration of how broadband Internet availability wanes as you get further away from urban centers. The continued viability of Redbox machines is one example of asymmetrical Internet availability and its effects on A/V consumer behavior.



Speaking of rentals, among proponents of physical media, one of the main arguments is that of ownership. The recent announcement that Ultraviolet (the digital locker service) is shutting down underlines a fundamental point: you don't really own anything in the cloud. Is the promise of owning a physical piece of media that contains your favorite movie in extremely high quality enough to keep Ultra HD Blu-ray afloat?

I do believe it’s “doomed” eventually but not anytime soon. With the advancements being made in digital content delivery and the continued proliferation of internet speeds in excess of 100mbps I see no reason why it won’t. To be honest I often watch the digital releases already over physical, especially when the Dolby Vision master is only available digitally. These DV streams typically trounce an HDR10 coded disc ime, especially when viewed on my ATV4K. Other 4K capable streamers I have tried lag behind the ATV4K for some reason ime (I’m looking at you chromecast ultra and Roku) which is odd, but for some reason the case and something that will eventually be sorted out. I also have a “lossy” Sonos system so I could care less about audio fidelity, as this sounds fantastic enough for my pedestrian ears lol.

To sum up I do believe discs will die eventually, which I am all for, since streaming will constantly improve quality through software tweaks and will hopefully obviate the need for ridiculously expensive hardware and physical media upgrades every few years. If something game changing (similar to HDR) does comes around, I would hope the studios would offer upgrades to your entire digital collection for a flat fee (say a one time $500 fee to upgrade your entire Disney collection or $20 per movie).
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They can kill it but the reality is that digital sell through is not making up for lost disc sales. Streaming is becoming synonomous with subscription services. I have a large number of digital titles redeemed from disc purchases because of the convenience factor. I'd never pay that much for a digital-only title with less than stellar quality. Out of over 200 digital titles I can count on one hand the number of titles I've bought in digital only.

Go ahead! Kill the disc market. It won't strengthen your streaming revenue.

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I like UHD blu-rays and hope they don't die any time soon. I hadn't bought any discs in ages until I got my 4K HDR system and since then I've been buying up lots of UHD discs. I like the quality and the reliability of discs. One night I had a bunch of friends over to watch a movie that was stream only (early release) and the Vudu servers went down! It was so frustrating. Streaming quality will likely continue to improve and that's great but the highest quality and most reliable way to watch a movie is still with a physical copy.

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post #8 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 08:57 AM
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While with sufficient bandwidth, streaming can look comparable to disc
operative phrase and no mean feat.

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post #9 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 09:17 AM
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Long term I would agree that it will go by the wayside, however, I don't think that's happening any time soon. Streaming is great and sufficient for most people, but bandwidth limitations are still significant in a lot of areas (i.e. speed and data caps). Our home uses a lot of bandwidth and regularly surpasses the higher end of today's data caps (1TB per month). Aside from that the content quality aspect is hard to ignore. There are still a lot of movies I prefer to watch via physical media due to the sound quality. While streaming is incredibly convenient, that convenience doesn't yet trump the (IMO) improved experience of a 4k disc. Maybe I'm part of the dying breed
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post #10 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:05 AM
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Not everyone is capable of securing streaming speeds. Physical media of sorts will still be around. Shoot Laser Discs might make a comeback
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post #11 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:13 AM
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The per-unit cost of producing 4k discs is negligible; it's a long tail technology and can be profitable even with very few purchasers. I don't see it fading away soon; at least not before physical media in general is fading away.
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post #12 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:20 AM
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I don't see a poll option for "it will continue to gain on blu-ray for the foreseeable future". The "comeback" option suggests there has been a slump in UHD relative to other physical media or that streaming already dominates. That doesn't seem to be the case. If anything UHD seems to be gaining on blu ray and physical media is still purchased more. https://www.whathifi.com/news/growin...-blu-ray-spend
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post #13 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:21 AM
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Another side note is Blue-rays are disappearing also. If I wander into the local Wal-Mart, they used to have a solid blue-ray presence, and a 5 dollar bin full of them, plus a decent little Ultra HD section. That bin is filled only with DVD's now and mostly only DVD's line the shelves also. The local Target is also following suit. The masses seem to be still contented with dvd's and streaming.

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post #14 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:32 AM
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Imo, the future of owning media will more than likely be taken away from us hamsters. Even if the quality of streams improves to the point it could actually match the data of a physical disc, the bandwidth would come at a cost and then monthly charges could have free reign. Assuming you use up your monthly 1TB cap in 3 weeks for instance, you could be charged extra for each additional GB. I've read about new plans offering this recently. Then there's the additional subscription services offering the content to stream and suddenly owning media could interfere with the potential bonanza so the noose needs to be tightened.


Before home theatres, if I liked a movie at the cinema and wanted to see it again a week later, I'd pay for another ticket (if it was still playing). Once I could own the media for home use, I could replay it often as I like having only paid for it once. I often revisit titles I want to watch with a different set of others or simply want to see again and again for what ever reasons. Take that media out my hands and make me pay for it over and over again streaming, I'm back to where I started not to mention if the titles offered today are still available for streaming in the future.


When physical media is abandoned, if I wanted to swap discs with my neighbor occasionally, I can't. This is understandable and there needs to be a stop put to it. 'Individual' multi-million yearly incomes for many industry workers need to be considered or they might starve, worse yet... miss a Botox appointment. Every revenue leak will be managed for the greater good.


So I'm out on my yacht or one of my vacation homes in the boondocks for a couple weeks (hypothetically speaking) and I have no internet. That's why we went; to get away from it all. But the family is getting cabin fever because there is no way to stream. Reading another book (maybe those should be an abandoned media too) and another game of monopoly is out of the question. I could just pop in discs and entertain them for hours, days even, provided we had any and they weren't abandoned under the guise that no one wants them anymore, preferring all the benefits of streaming instead.

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Im buying them as long as they make 'em!
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post #16 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:39 AM
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Thankfully I have gigabit internet service FTTH and no cap, but its still not reliable 100% of the time. Plus as more users are added to the gigabit node in my neighborhood the likelihood of maintaining enough bandwidth for multiple homes streaming 4K quickly dwindles.

Streaming is never going to be a replacement that will rival disc quality. Personally I think that's why Disney is purposefully screwing with the audio quality on their disc releases. They want the disc to sound just as bad as a mediocre streaming service. That way consumers can't educate other consumers regarding the superiority of the discs.

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post #17 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:41 AM
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I am one of those content with DVD discs. I will purchase a Blu Ray only for a blockbuster title. I see streaming taking the lead in the not to distant future. Most content delivered to a movie multiplex is via a download, so why not deliver that content to the home via a stream.

On a side note, I live in an area that was not served by any broadband providers (rural). Now I have access to 100 Mbs which let me dump directtv and consume all content over IP.

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Why is something doomed when it’s still only getting going? Did Blu-ray’s take over the marketplace quickly from DVD’s? Oh I know some are trying to claim it’s still a insignificant percentage of the marketplace, so?
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post #19 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Why is something doomed when it’s still only getting going? Did Blu-ray’s take over the marketplace quickly from DVD’s? Oh I know some are trying to claim it’s still a insignificant percentage of the marketplace, so?
The reason? I would think, self-evidently, streaming is what's different between that last transition and today.
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post #20 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 10:58 AM
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The reason? I would think, self-evidently, streaming is what's different between that last transition and today.
Then this is a question about physical media vs streaming, which is different than a question about UHD which would be more appropriately measured against other physical media (on which it is steadily gaining).
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Then this is a question about physical media vs streaming, which is different than a question about UHD which would be more appropriately measured against other physical media (on which it is steadily gaining).
Did you read my post?

I discussed streaming, streaming is obviously the main threat to all discs including this format.

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The format is doomed as long as studios insist on packing in DVD and Bluray disks and still counting those as sales when the UHD consumer doesn't even want them in there.
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post #23 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 11:06 AM
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The reason? I would think, self-evidently, streaming is what's different between that last transition and today.
While you can be satisfied that streaming is adequate, it’s not stable either, you have Ultraviolet going also. Not all these streaming efforts are that profitable. Already seen examples where a studio no longer wants content streamed, if you don’t have it on media too bad. So media, digital codes, and streaming. Harm one hurts them all it seems? Best to maintain all the choices and not promote one over the other.
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post #24 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 11:11 AM
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The per-unit cost of producing 4k discs is negligible; it's a long tail technology and can be profitable even with very few purchasers. I don't see it fading away soon; at least not before physical media in general is fading away.
I've read a disc mastered in 4K is significantly more expensive than a disc mastered in 2K. Maybe someone could speak to that, and that most theaters are still presenting in 2K.
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post #25 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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While you can be satisfied that streaming is adequate, it’s not stable either, you have Ultraviolet going also. Not all these streaming efforts are that profitable. Already seen examples where a studio no longer wants content streamed, if you don’t have it on media too bad. So media, digital codes, and streaming. Harm one hurts them all it seems? Best to maintain all the choices and not promote one over the other.
The market determines these things. It's going to be up to some business people whether UHD Blu-ray is profitable enough to stick around, based on consumer behavior.

As for what you choose today, it certainly must depend on the individual. Since I got gigabit FIOS, streaming UHD has been totally reliable. And once Apple got into the UHD HDR game, you've got a profitable entity serving the streams that you pretty much can expect to stick around.

Surely some folks must be able to make a connection between Samsung adding iTunes directly to its TVs, and its decision to end making new 4K UHD disc players. If the suits saw a future for discs, I would think that more players would be in the works, rather than the strategic withdrawal that we're seeing.
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post #26 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 11:22 AM
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I've read there's considerable extra expense, particularly when a disc is mastered in 4K. Maybe someone could speak to that.
These days all distribution formats, from the big screen to DVD/Bluray/UHD, are graded at the same time from digital sources. Producing a 4K disc is an incremental cost. What is expensive is re-mastering an older film for a 4K release. In that case they do have to consider what the 4K sales are going to look like before investing in that process.
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post #27 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 11:29 AM
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Did you read my post?

I discussed streaming, streaming is obviously the main threat to all discs including this format.
There's a bit of a disconnect between the specific UHD callouts in the thread title and poll answers and the discussion of streaming vs physical in general in the post body. If UHD is doomed, it is because all physical media is doomed, making the UHD callout a non sequitur. Because you did make that specific callout I assumed an element of your question was in fact UHD vs other physical media where UHD is in fact doing quite well. Two different questions, two different and opposing answers.
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post #28 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Surely some folks must be able to make a connection between Samsung adding iTunes directly to its TVs, and its decision to end making new 4K UHD disc players. If the suits saw a future for discs, I would think that more players would be in the works, rather than the strategic withdrawal that we're seeing.
Since Samsung and Apple partner on a lot of technology, it’s a example of Apple using Samsung TVs to pitch their upcoming streaming service only IMHO. For Samsung coming off a 30% drop in profits it’s a win for marketing their 2019 TV’s.
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post #29 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mattztt View Post
There's a bit of a disconnect between the specific UHD callouts in the thread title and poll answers and the discussion of streaming vs physical in general in the post body. If UHD is doomed, it is because all physical media is doomed, making the UHD callout a non sequitur. Because you did make that specific callout I assumed an element of your question was in fact UHD vs other physical media where UHD is in fact doing quite well. Two different questions, two different and opposing answers.
I don't think it's a non sequitur. One reason regular Blu-ray or even DVD might outlast UHD Blu-ray is the size of the back catalog in each format, combined with cost of media. I don't at all see it as a guaranteed thing that UHD Blu-ray surpasses and outlasts Blu-ray.
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Last edited by imagic; 02-22-2019 at 11:42 AM.
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post #30 of 303 Old 02-22-2019, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattztt View Post
There's a bit of a disconnect between the specific UHD callouts in the thread title and poll answers and the discussion of streaming vs physical in general in the post body. If UHD is doomed, it is because all physical media is doomed, making the UHD callout a non sequitur. Because you did make that specific callout I assumed an element of your question was in fact UHD vs other physical media where UHD is in fact doing quite well. Two different questions, two different and opposing answers.
Always nice to see "non sequitur" used in a sentence. Reminds me of Star Trek and Nomad.

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