In the world of technology, the only constant is change. Nowhere is that more the case than with video formats. Over the years, we have seen so many ways of viewing and listening to material come and go, and there always seems to be another one just around the corner. You may have already forgotten or never used some of them, but here’s a recap and roughly when they were actively promoted:
VHS Tape – 1978 to 2005
Betamax Tape – 1975 to 2002
Laserdisc – 1978 to 2009
HD-DVD – 2002 – 2008
Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) – 1997-2012
Blu-ray DVD – 2001- ?
The last two are the ones we want to talk about today. There are many people in our industry who believe the year 2012 is the year the DVD was as good as dead. They’re just waiting for it to be buried. Have people stopped watching movies? On the contrary. The movie business has never been so profitable. So, what are they watching? Here are the current trends from last year:
DVD rentals from stores – down 31%
DVD sales – down 20%
Online streaming of movies – up 94%
The pattern is clear. While there are still some videophiles who want the superior quality that comes from owning your own Blu-ray copy of a film, for the most part DVD is your father’s way of watching a movie.
Streaming is now taking over as the way-of-choice to watch movies. Netflix has over 25 million subscribers. Amazon Prime has 10 million. Hulu Plus is now pushing close to 2 million and growing all the time.
The affects of this will be huge, all the way from Hollywoood to your neighbourhood video store to your home theatre. In Hollywood, they have to deal with the fact that half a movie’s profit used to come from DVD sales. That is drying up fast. With the revenue from DVD’s fading, movie studios are now rely on opening weekend receipts and overseas sales. In the past, customers would happily pay $20 to have a DVD in their collection. DVD’s only cost pennies to manufacture, so almost all of the $20 was profit. Now viewers will instead pay $3.50 to watch a download and never think about the movie again. Neighbourhood video rental stores are disappearing quickly and being replaced by cheap rental kiosks in the supermarket. There are even illegal websites where pirated films are openly posted and otherwise law-abiding citizens go there and watch them for free.
So, what are we supposed to do now? Do we throw away our DVD players, sell our DVD’s at the lawn sales and move on to Netflix? The answer is “Not so fast.” The technology may have moved past DVD’s, but that doesn’t mean that people will let go of it right away. There are a number of things DVD’s do that still make them popular, and those features aren’t going away. Here are a few of the things that people still like about this technology:
It’s very likely that the video of your child’s school concert will still be supplied on DVD. It is a cheap and easy format to reproduce, places like schools have invested in the technology to reproduce them and they will not stop doing that for at least the next few years.
Because of the heavy bandwidth demands of streaming video, much of it comes into your home compressed. If you’ve spent a lot of money for a home theatre, you don’t want the video itself to be the weakest link. Blu-ray still clearly outperforms Netflix.
Collectors Love Them
DVD is still the format of choice for buying a complete season of your favourite TV show. It’s also how you get a movie you enjoyed with all the extras like the director’s commentary.
You Can Get What’s New
Hollywood is holding back a lot of the really good stuff from the streaming services because they need to sell you those DVD’s. They will continue this for as long as they can get away with it.
This trend away from DVD does mean some interesting changes for home automation. In the past few years, a cornerstone of a very high-end home system was a media server. Some companies offered hard drives with memory in the multiple terabytes as they imagined consumers saving huge libraries of Blu-ray and DVD (as well as uncompressed audio CD’s, another format on life support). There will still be big demand for this kind of media server for a few years, and probably a small market for it forever. But it is now just as important to know what your system will do for you in terms of streaming, rather than storing. You need to know that you will be able to use the system to find what you need on line, and then make it easy to watch it streamed live or make sure it is easy to store temporarily to watch later.
That’s all the more reason to work with a home automation specialist. No-one wants to invest big money in dead-end technology and this is one area you need professional advice. You should also look for someone who represents the major brands like Crestron and AMX. They are future friendly companies that make sure their technology is always ready for the next format the industry throws at us.
Talk to the home automation specialists at OneTouch Automation to make sure the system you buy will be an investment that is format proof and ready to give you many trouble-free years of service.