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Why the moribund DVD business may be revived

It’s been a gloomy year for collectors of physical media. DVDs and Blu-ray discs, once a source of billions of dollars in revenue for Hollywood companies, now risk becoming obsolete, or at least irrelevant.

The first blow came at the end of September, when Netflix mailed the final DVD (a copy of the 2010 film) true courage, directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen). Starting November 1, the DVD Netflix website will serve as an interactive memorial page.

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Netflix’s DVD business has shrunk in recent years (revenue fell from more than $1 billion in 2012 to $146 million in 2022), but for movie fans who enjoy its vast library of new releases and classic movies and TV series, This is a safe space. In many ways, this shutdown marks the end of an era, and while some companies like Redbox have tried to fill the void, it seems unlikely that the service will return.

Then Ingram Entertainment, once the country’s largest DVD distributor, said in September it would exit the disc business, and in October Best Buy, the country’s largest electronics retailer, said it would discontinue Sells DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. End of 2023.

“It’s clear that the way we watch movies and TV shows today is very different than it was decades ago,” a Best Buy spokesman said in a statement, adding that removing rows of discs “gives us more Space and opportunities for customers to explore, discover and enjoy new innovative technologies.”

To be sure, the market isn’t dead yet, especially with Amazon and Walmart still in the race. In fact, Media Play News reported this summer that Walmart was in talks with Studio Distribution Services, a Universal/Warner Bros. joint venture. However, without Netflix and Best Buy, and others likely to follow suit, the fate of DVD home entertainment will be more dangerous than ever.

But there are signs of hope. A major strategic shift by major streaming media, coupled with the current state of the music industry, offers a potential way forward for physical media.

When Netflix launches streaming, you can find all the movie and TV content you want, anytime, anywhere. Everyone else has followed this strategy – but now things have changed again.

Warner Bros. Discovery Channel began a content cleanup of its streaming service HBO Max (now Max) last year, removing thousands of hours of programming. Disney+, Hulu and Paramount+ followed suit, canceling shows and phasing out older titles. In a post-strike world, even Netflix or Amazon might be tempted to delete titles to save some money, even as they continue to rise.

This shift in strategy, while jarring for some creators and consumers, reinforces the value of physical media. This is similar to the situation with digital downloads, which you can “purchase” from Amazon or iTunes but can be deleted from your library at any time.The studio can be moved Western world and good burger From Max—but not from your bookshelf.

Then there are the lessons for the music industry, which was disrupted by streaming long before Hollywood. According to the Recording Industry Association of America’s 2023 mid-year revenue report, while streaming media accounts for 84% of music revenue, physical media is growing. Vinyl records were the main growth driver, but CD sales also increased. RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier commented: “The new data also shows the enduring power of the physical format.” He added, “Physical revenue reached its highest level since a full decade ago, surpassing this year’s $880 million to date.”

Vinyl helped turn around the physical media business of music, with its unique sound and artists’ willingness to add extra tracks and unplayable content. It’s not unlike the behind-the-scenes access and director’s commentary that define DVDs and movies. Blu-ray era.

With titles quickly disappearing from streaming services, it might be worth opening the DVD or Blu-ray release window again: buy it now before it leaves your subscription and never comes back.

Netflix DVD revenue infographic over the past decadeNetflix DVD revenue infographic over the past decade

Netflix DVD revenue infographic over the past decade

A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 8 issue of hollywood reporter Magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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