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Is the End of Physical Media Inevitable?

  • Yes, physical media will quickly disappear altogether

    Votes: 27 2.4%
  • Yes, physical media will slowly disappear altogether

    Votes: 213 18.6%
  • No, new physical formats will continue to be developed

    Votes: 393 34.3%
  • No, but physical media will become a niche market for enthusiasts

    Votes: 513 44.8%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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?
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by boblinds  /t/1466999/is-the-end-of-physical-media-inevitable/0_50#post_23170963


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.
 

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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
 

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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
 

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^CD's are a higher form of quality?
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18  /t/1466999/is-the-end-of-physical-media-inevitable#post_23171468


^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.
 

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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.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18  /t/1466999/is-the-end-of-physical-media-inevitable/0_100#post_23171468


^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.
 

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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???
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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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.
 
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