Topic: Home Media Future

When I was in my Production Practicum class (class about the business of filmmaking and producing) a discussion that popped up often was the future of home media.  The idea that has grasped quite a few in the industry, I think typified by Netflix trying to push more streaming, is that all content will be digital within a few years.  Traditional, physical media (DVD, Blu-Ray) will be dead and gone.  Everything will go digital if for no other reason; instead of having a huge shelf for stacks of discs for one movie; you could have several huge harddrives for thousands of movies/content.  Save money.

Personally, I'm still a fan of physical media, holding the box gives a sense of security and a sense of ownership.  I also like looking at a bookcase and seeing all the colors and different artworks. 

I will say though that I have become a fan of digital copies; used to hate them as nothing more than an extra $5 grab.  However my opinion changed when I got 'Predators' on Blu-Ray and just decided to download the digital copy; watching a movie anywhere really was cool.  So having digital copies with a Blu-Ray (which I think should be standard on all) definitely weighs in my choice to buy it.  Personally I think if a Blu-Ray doesn't come with a Digital Copy that with the UPC or some other code; be available at a discount on iTunes or if it has expired; for a discounted price be available for download. 

I recently downloaded from iTunes 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' and my big thing about not going full digital is the lack of special features.  It lacked the commentary, but had the featurettes.  Seeing that changed my mind as well as downloading 'Drive Angry'; which came with the Blu-Ray special features.  Except both lacked Picture-In-Picture, love that feature.  But now that digital content is starting to look more like a traditional media format; I'm liking it.

However, despite enjoying having a digital copy of a film at my fingertips; I'm still a fan of traditional media.  I think there is enough of a group who prefers traditional media or embraces both equally that the market for DVDs/Blu-Rays/4K-Ray (it's gonna come)/whatever it will be and digitally accessed content.

What does everyone think of this?  Do you believe that within a few years all that traditional, physical media will be dead; taken over by digitally distributed media?  Or that the market will find a balance between the pair?

Re: Home Media Future

I think the only physical media that will hold out will be vinyl records which they have done already but only because of the collectability and novelty.
Other than that it’s all gonna be digital even doughnuts.

Re: Home Media Future

Interesting about your class, I had some of the same discussion in some of mine (not film school, MBA stuff).  I even had to do a breakdown of Netflix's future prospects (my group thought it would be dead soon, I disagreed).

Things about physical media
Yes, it can take up space on a shelf.  But then, you can copy it to a media player and put that disc/box into a closet.  The shelf life for a professionally pressed disc is really not known yet, if handled properly.  Having that disc mitigates against drive failure that kapoofs all your movies.

Assuming your friends and/or family have a DVD or Blu-ray player, you can just take your disc over and pop it in.  It would be a little bit more cumbersome to take your media drive over.  Even, say, if you had it on your laptop, will they have the correct plugs to watch the film from your laptop?

There is still confusion among the studios as to what versions of media get what extra features.  Right before Blockbuster went down, it was using a special disc that came with no features, mainly to deter the sell-through aspect of previewed movies.  (Aside- which I find pretty damn stupid since I have never heard/read a single person rave about the special features of a rom-com movie.  Action films, sort of.  But sci-fi and horror I hear about all the time.)  I'll discuss this more under the digital section.

Cool objects.  Why do people buy neat box sets, such as the Terminator Head, the Phastasm Ball, or the Tomb of the Blind Dead coffin?  Because they are awesome collector's items.  Why do some people plates that feature former Presidents?  Yes, they are insane, but they think they are collectible.  People, in general, but getting less so with the younger generations (hell, I have to use the damn plural now), like to have something.  Why do we take pictures?  To have a solid memory of that moment.  Inside, we know that at some point, our memory of that moment may fade, just like a digital version of something may falter.

And, if you no longer have LPs, and zombies attack, you can use your DVD/BR discs as weapons.

Things about digital media
Takes up no physical space, can copy all day long, limited only to your drive space.  Sounds great, everything you want.  But not quite.  The vast majority of people do not routinely, if at all, back up their drives.  Depending how you got your digital film, this may or may not be a problem.  Some distributors will let you re-download the file, some won't.  So you either get a redo or you repay.  If you got a torrent, you can probably get it again.  Generally torrents will not have any extra features, and be of lesser quality (so I have been told).  Plus, there is always that threat of a lawsuit over your head.

Going back to the special features item.  As the AwesomeSimitar has already pointed out, different digital versions have different special features.  Which as I noted above, doesn't really seem to bother most people, but then again, we are not most people.  big_smile  Also, the whole concept of digital distribution is in a very complex state of flux right now; just look at what Netflix has been doing the past couple of months.  Look at how the studios are trying to squeeze Netflix for more money just for the "honor" of hosting their content.  Then throw in cable and satellite TV with their OnDemand content.  This whole digital service model is nowhere near being settled.

I haven't touched on DRM (Digital Rights Management) yet.  For actual discs, all you need is to buy a program to strip it away (Monkeys nor HM neither condone nor condemn such actions).  Streaming media is a bit more difficult.  Newer cable boxes, TV, and DVD/BR players are incorporating HDCP over HDMI (copy protection over those new fancy cables) to make sure you can't copy a signal in-between.  Yes, it can be gotten around, but it is more difficult than ripping a disc (Cthulhu and Bobo neither condemn nor condone such actions).   But this leads us to….

Vendor lock in.  For example, Amazon has a digital movie rental and purchasing store, which is good.  What is bad, though, is that purchased movies are DRM'd so they films can only be watched on Microsoft PCs.  Yes, there is a way around that, too (nope, not doing it again).  So I bought "Necessary Roughness" (Manu Manu the Slender!), and can't play it on my Mac.  Various set-top boxes, TVs, and B-R players have various connections to online distributors (Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, etc), but you can't upgrade the devices or add new distributors. 

Final word on digital media- it is still being worked out in the marketplace.

Thoughts of a Monkey
I wanna a banana.

Physical media is going to be with us for a long time yet.  Manufacturers are already looking at ultraviolet laser discs.  Holographic storage is actually progressing, albeit slowly.  The main difference between vinyl, 8-tracks (HA!), cassettes and optical media is that optical media is always backwards compatible.  CDs used a laser, DVDs used a smaller wavelength laser, B-Rs used an even smaller wavelength laser.  Smaller bandwidths can read bigger channels in older discs.

The other problem is that real broadband in the US (sorry to exclude my foreign brethren here, Hollywood and all) is spotty and fairly crappy compared to many parts of the rest of the world.  Yes, it is much better than many other parts of the world, too.  But until we have fibre or DOSCIS 3+ going to at least to the suburbs of cities, pure digital media is not going to take over 100%.


So, physical media is around for at least another 20 or so years.  Digital media will keep making inroads, drive space will keep getting cheaper, and distribution channels will start to figure out what they are doing.  Digital media will gradually replace physical media, but I doubt that physical media will ever be totally displace.

Re: Home Media Future

Or to put it another way; Grandma ain't got no computer but Grandma still likes watching her movies.

Re: Home Media Future

^^
You're mocking me, aren't you?

Re: Home Media Future

Not this time smile

Re: Home Media Future

I think I've been reading about the death of physical media for at least a decade.

I imagine I'll still be reading about it in another decade.

Digital media has gotten a bit of a free ride over the last few years. The tech savvy got into it. Bandwidth was a non-issue. The market was small enough that bidding wars and distribution rights weren't major bones of contention.

The idea that, "Grandma ain't got no computer but Grandma still likes watching her movies". is actually very valid. For the majority of people that I know, the idea of hooking up a TV or internet enabled device to the 'net for watching movies is a technological challenge that they'd rather not deal with. It may seem second nature to many of us who hang around on A/V forums but for most of the people seaching through the bargain bin at Walmart, Netflix streaming is a mystery.

In many ways, I beleive the digital delivery free-ride is coming to an end. I'm not saying digital delivery is coing to an end...but the unfetterred expansion of it's market is ending. The tech savvy are already in and now selling it to Grandma is the challenge. All the free bandwidth you want for the foreseeable future is no longer a good bet. And we now see content providers being hardline about negotiating distribution rights.

The great digital delvivery free-for-all will likely draw to a close with people discovering that they need to subscribe to multiple services to access all the content they want. They may also find themsleves buying more expensive internet service packages for the bandwidth they need.

Ulitimately, there will still be people who just want the simplicity of sticking a disc in a box and pushing the play button. 

Speaking for myself, I just like the like quality of Blu-ray. It's that simple for me. Digital delivery just doesn't cut it for a high end A/V experience. I've got a 60" LED/LCD Sharp Quattron and 7.1 channel sound syste. I didn't buy that TV so that I could see banding in skies and various big compression artifacts (which I've seen on pretty much every 'net delivered video).

Re: Home Media Future

Anyone bring up cloud technology. Also it seems that at some point there will no longer be need for back up on anything.

Re: Home Media Future

Wow, got a lot more postings than I thought.

I love your breakdown Azathoth, my class was one of the best and most fun I took at SCAD.  My professor was Executive Producer on two little films 'The Breakfast Club' and 'Fried Green Tomatoes'.  He gave us a breakdown of 'decay' for shelf life of physical media; will try to hunt it down, it's buried in my drive. 

The 'Cool Objects' portion is definitely a reason I think physical media will stay; hard core collectors would buy the items anyway, but those who might not normally buy a sculpture of a character/creature might do so if it comes with the movie. 

And if you lose your movie, do you have to pay for it again or can you just download it again without problem has been a big unanswered question I think.  I back up all of my digital copies just in case however I know that there's always the chance of my HD going crazy on me and I want protection.  In the unlikely events that my HD and my backup go crazy...what am I to do?


And I must agree with Rex, I love the look of Blu-Ray, it's something only physical media can have; streaming can't match it and unless I dole out for the HD digital copy of a film, I can't get that.  At any rate, my iPhone and iPod aren't designed to handle 1080p footage; so there's not much point in having the HD DC if I can't carry it around.

Re: Home Media Future

Cloud technology? Or as it used to be known, mainframes and terminals wink
I can't wait for the new transport breakthrough, the bio-fueled qaudripedal personal transport device. Yes a horse wink

Re: Home Media Future

swollenguy wrote:

Anyone bring up cloud technology. Also it seems that at some point there will no longer be need for back up on anything.

Don't jump the fence yet- it will start costing a few duckets soon enough.  And I'll never trust anyone else to backup my stuff, or even be able to look at all of my research papers.  "Oops, server died, sorry, your stuff is gone."  Or you can pay double for them to back it up, as long as it is remote located and that doesn't screw up.  If hackers can hit the DoD, they can hit Apple or Google.

Cloud computing is a twist on the old "network computer" theme.  Has pluses, has minuses- I don't like minuses.

Am I paranoid? Yup.

Last edited by azathoth (2011-10-11 12:36:03)

Re: Home Media Future

Waiting for the edit wink

Re: Home Media Future

azathoth wrote:
swollenguy wrote:

Anyone bring up cloud technology. Also it seems that at some point there will no longer be need for back up on anything.

Don't jump the fence yet- it will start costing a few duckets soon enough.  And I'll never trust anyone else to backup my stuff, or even be able to look at all of my research papers.  "Oops, server died, sorry, your stuff is gone."  Or you can pay double for them to back it up, as long as it is remote located and that doesn't screw up.  If hackers can hit the DoD, they can hit Apple or Google.

Cloud computing is a twist on the old "network computer" theme.  Has pluses, has minuses- I don't like minuses.

Am I paranoid? Yup.

Sure but just looking at the natural pace of things. if I had told you back in the 3.5 floppy days about how much a flash drive could hold, you would say BS. I think we’ll get to the place in my life time where data storage and retrieval will seem limitless and instantaneous to the average Joe. I think it will be like in the movies were you have some sort of interface (maybe holographic). but no more CP’s or blu-ray players or house phones.
Also they have already wired paraplegics allowing them to use their brain to move a mouse curser and made remote control mice (the furry kind). So our ideas of how we interact with media might change drastically as well in twenty years. Things move pretty fast, twenty years ago most of you guys thought it was ok to wear tight dolphin shorts and a pink tank top with zink oxide on your nose.

Re: Home Media Future

swollenguy wrote:

I think we’ll get to the place in my life time where data storage and retrieval will seem limitless and instantaneous to the average Joe. I think it will be like in the movies were you have some sort of interface (maybe holographic). but no more CP’s or blu-ray players


My problem with that theory is that it's a technological analysis of what is really a commercial issue.

People who foresee the end of physical media think in terms of technology. They see it as storage and retrieval.

But movies are "Show BUSINESS". Movies are commercial properties that are used to generate a variety of revenue streams. Theaters still exist and studios, film makers and theater owners want to put ticket-buying bodies in the seats. The last numbers I saw for BD and DVD sales were about $170 million for that week (mid September). That's a revenue stream for film makers, studios and retailers.

While I have no doubt that studios want to tap into the opportunites afforded by digital delivery, I also have seen no real evidence that they want to shut down the traditional revenue streams.  Show business is about selling movies. If the studios can sell you a theater ticket, they will. If they can sell you a download, they will. If they can sell you a disc, they will.

I think the business part of the equation tends to be lost when we get too starry-eyed about the technology.

Re: Home Media Future

I don’t think the biz end gets lost at all, but you have to be willing to completely rethink the model, something the music/recording industry was forced to do and now has a future again.

Fact the theaters in my area are dying. There’s one video store left within a reasonable driving range. I don’t live in the boondocks I live in southern Orange County CA (Irvine area). Boarders is gone and best buy is hanging by a thread. Wall mart’s full dvd’s in bins as if they were rubbish. I just bought Pontypool (a new and popular movie) for a dollar and ninety nine cents.

I think direct Dvd/blu disc type media sales through Amazon etc… will hold up for a while and start dying out by the end of the decade. Then when the new generation that never new anything other than buying digital will be the majority consumer. The 12-17 year olds that right now turn to itunes for there: movies, tv shows, books, and games. I also think we are going to see more entrainment dollars turning to block buster budget video games and possibly motion picture/game hybrids.

I have not bought a music CD in three years. Bought lots of music though. and I am 33 years old

Talk to me in 2020 and tell me how crazy I was.

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I'm betting limitless porn chips will one day be able to be surgically attached to the base of our spines.  Yay, future!

Re: Home Media Future

swollenguy wrote:

Things move pretty fast, twenty years ago most of you guys thought it was ok to wear tight dolphin shorts and a pink tank top with zink oxide on your nose.

And I still do!  lol

Re: Home Media Future

swollenguy wrote:

Talk to me in 2020 and tell me how crazy I was.

Don't think you're crazy at all (well, about this at least tongue ).  Most likely 2020 will be some combo of what you and I said.  As Dex said, a lot will also depend on evolving business models.  Predict those and you'll be a millionaire.  The problem is that business people can act in very odd ways sometimes, especially Hollywood.

Last edited by azathoth (2011-10-11 22:30:34)

Re: Home Media Future

Speaking of Cloud Technology; recently saw the Final Destination 5 Blu-Ray along with Green Lantern will each be coming with an Ultraviolet Digital Copy.  From what I read; it's basically cloud tech. 

Course we'll see how these will pan out.  While I can see having instant access can be an asset; gotta wonder if this caters to people too lazy to spend 3 minutes to put a film onto their device.

Re: Home Media Future

^^
If it's taking them 3 minutes to put a disc into a player, they may have some other issues.

Yep, I looked up Ultraviolet, and it is a cloud copy.  Not the ultraviolet discs I was talking about earlier though.  Just a name.  Sound like Apple's iCloud thing, where the media you buy from them is stored on there hardware, and you can download when you want.  I don't think Ultraviolet actually uploads every single copy into a cloud (wouldn't be very efficient), probably just ID tags.

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For me the cloud thing is still confusing.  It's hard for me to see if it's something akin to Netflix Instant or Hulu where I can access a library...as long as I have Wifi or Data connection.  Or if I can access it then download what films I want onto my device and switch 'em out.

Re: Home Media Future

In general terms, the cloud keeps the data 'out there' on remote servers.  You can alter it on the remote servers (like Google apps) or download a copy to your device (I think this is how Apple's iCloud works).  Streaming is a specialized version, like Netflix, where you can watch it, but not copy it (well, you're not supposed to be able to).

It's still an evolving concept.

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Last January or February, I got an email notice from Shaw that they would be doing some kind of system upgrade during the middle of the night. No problem.

The next morning, I had no internet...which I assumed meant the upgrade hadn't finished. After a few hours, I figured something was wrong so I phoned there tech support. I got a recorded message saying that some users of D-link routers have lost internet service and the "fix" was to disconnect the wireless router and hard wire directly into the computer. The recorded message then stated that this was an issue for D-link tech support and users who lost internet service should contact them.

Well, I never did get an official fix from D-link and the unofficial fix I found on the internet was too complicated and seemed to risky. So I haven't had wireless in the house since the start of the year. It's an inconvenience as I can no longer use my laptop in the living room to connect to the the internet.

Now, while that may not seem DIRECTLY related to digital movie delivery as opposed to physical discs, it does point out one more small issue. It just shows one more technical complication that can arise. Of course, the arguement can be made that anybody with some tech sense could fix the problem but, on behalf of the great unwashed, I'd rather not have to worry about it.

My next door neighbour, a friend of mine since our grade school days in the 1960's, was showing me his system which has all of his movies stored on a hard drive and delivered wirelessly to his TV. Fortunately, he doesn't have the same D-link router that I had. If I had his system, I'd be in a pickle.

Now, again, I'm not saying that this is an issue which disqualifies digital delivery. It is, by my term, a "complication". It's one more thing in the chain that can go wrong if you have a similar setup.

In a few minutes, I'm going to watch my new Blu-ray of THE EDGE. I'll hit a button to turn on my receiver and another button to turn on my BD player. Drop the BD in the tray and in a few seconds I'll have the movie on the screen in 1080p high defintion with 5.1 lossless DTS-HD Master Audio.

Simple system for a simple guy smile.

Re: Home Media Future

^^
I avoided the whole delivery infrastructure system issue.  I worked some projects where most of the time was spent trying to fix the network.

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Interesting developments with Blu-ray market share.

Blu-ray has a long history of hitting sales plateaus and then getting stuck there for several months at a time.

I remember when BD sales seemed to be about 8% every week for darn near a year. It was big news when BD finally put together a couple weeks over 10%. Then it climbed up to 20% and moved in that range for about a year. About a month ago, BD broke the 30% barrier for the first time (probably the week of Star Wars). It was impressive but I also figured it was likely a fluke that wouldn't be repeated for some time. Much to my shock, BD subsequently racked up a couple more weeks in the 30%+ share. I know we've had some strong releases but I didn't expect that kind of sustained market share. I again waited for the new numbers, expecting BD to settle back into the 20's.

But here are the latest numbers:


http://www.homemediamagazine.com/files/homemediamagazine/blocks/htmlteaser/11/Webresearch-102411.jpg


Blu-ray sets a new market share record. This is the first time BD has reached 40% of disc sales. It was a good week for discs in general. The chart shows DVD continues to decline but BD revenue more than covered the DVD losses. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck and I don't expect great results like this every week but you must acknowledge high performance when you see it.

It is now possible to at least speculate about the day that many people thought would never come: the day Blu-ray outsells DVD. We aren't there yet. Maybe we won't be there for two years. But the idea is no longer impossible. There has been speculation (pending the final crunching of numbers) that Blu-ray may have just outsold DVD in the "Top 20 New Release" category.