Going Up and Going Down: SVOD is on the Rise while 4K Discs Dive

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(June 8, 2019) Industry research outfit MediaPlayNews.com recently published two new snapshots that illustrate the current and future movement away from disc-based media.

First up is a report that Global Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) subscriptions are projected to increase a whopping 86% between now and 2024. That would make for a total of 947 million subscriptions to services spread across some 531 million subscribers; nearly 119 million new subscribers are expected during this year alone.

The bulk of subscribing households reside in 15 different countries around the world, with China leading the way. In fact, China overtook the United States as the largest consumer of subscription based services during 2018.

As we enter 2024, Netflix is expected to remain a dominant force. Disney and its forthcoming Disney + SVOD service is projected to net over 19 million subscribers during the next 4.5 years.

Moving onto discs, the bad news for 4K UHD Blu-ray continues roll in. Over the last year, 4K Blu-ray has taken it on the chin in several ways, including lagging sales and a shrinking disc player market. Now, according to MediaPlayNews, 4K UHD Blu-ray only accounted for a mere 4.2% of “Top 50” disc sales during the last week of May. Blu-ray remained slightly healthier (33.6%), while DVD continues to enjoy a strong presence accounting for 62.2% of sales.

Somehow, someway, DVD remains a preferred platform to purchase, making it more and more apparent that 4K Blu-ray may never overtake its aged sibling.

Additionally, both Blu-ray and DVD sales for the week ending 5-25-2019 are down some 17.71% when compared to the same week last year. That makes for an overall loss of nearly $53.76 million in comparative revenue.

Unfortunately, the writing continues to appear on the wall for 4K Blu-ray.
 

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I guess those of us who like 4K Blu Ray discs need to stock up while we can. It’s incredible to myself, that 480p DVD still accounts for the biggest share of discs...And Samsung and Sony have come out with 8K TV’s while JVC has an 8K Projector...makes one scratch one’s head
 

Sonnie

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This really does not surprise me ... and it wouldn't surprise me if we see disc players fade away along with Blu-ray.
 

BenderJRodriguez

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It doesnt surprise me. The CE industry forgot how to make stuff simple stupid. To get HDR to work you need to know how to turn on advanced HDMI on your tv, get the correct HDMI, know features to turn on in your 4k player or turn off secondary audio to get atmos. Its not consumer friendly at all. Dvd players work perfect with component (or composite, we all know one person hooked up that way) and sound fine. Ssd but true
 

Todd Anderson

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When it comes to discs, it all boils down to one thing: cost of entry and cost of maintaining.

My opinion, of course ;-)

Secondarily, @BenderJRodriguez is absolutely correct. Complexity is a massive issue
 

tripplej

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Streaming is here and is the future..I hardly ever buy physical discs anymore. I mostly stream now. Only on rare occasions do I get a physical disc..
 

jdubs75

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For me there’s still something about a physical disk. Call me old school. Haha. We still have a guy in town renting Blu Rays although barely surviving. I guess I need to get onboard!

What streaming services are you guys using for new releases?
 

JBrax

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I like most in our hobby enjoy physical media and the collecting of discs. I also like having choices and different options on how I consume media. Streaming is coming along though and closing the gap. I can get 4K HDR and Atmos via my AppleTV and honestly it’s right there with the physical discs.
 

Asere

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And just to think there is now 8k TV's available. There is not much 4k tv content out there compared to standard HD. Since bluray/4k media is dying out I am sure soon there will be 8k media available only to die out too. A pattern until its nothing but 8k streaming or whatever else takes place while 90% of tv channels will still remain standard HD.
 
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Michael Scott

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I think some of the perspectives might be off slightly. I've heard "the death of physical media is right around the corner!" for about a decade now.

SVOD is King in many ways. It has destroyed cable TV and pretty much become the defacto standard in that area, and has cannibalized the physical market as well. But that cannibalization is slightly skewed as well simply due to the fact that DVD was an anomaly. Look back at the VHS and Laserdisc era. people bought home vodeo, but not even as much has we do NOW, even with SVOD on the rise. DVD came around and it was a market surge like no one had EVER seen before. Sales and amount of people buying home video movies quadrupled over night. now we're seeing the burst of the bubble and with the convenience of on demand SVOD (vs just having to wait till a movie came on HBO or pay per view) the market is re-shifting back towards that demographic after most people who wanted movies spent 2 decades gorging themselves on DVD, then Blu-ray.

now, as for 4K UHD, I think the "ermagoodness! it's not over taking Blu-ray at all!" thing is because it was never MEANT to. According to many of the insiders I talk with UHD is slightly behind schudule, but even in their wildest expectations it was never meant to surpass 7-8% of the market. 4K UHD has always been estimated to be a high end enthusiast format like Laserdisc rather than be the supplanter of Blu-ray. SVOD will rise, physical will decrease, but there are too many factors (over 1/3rd of the nation still doesn't have fast enough internet to do 1080p properly streaming, or doesn't have internet at all) for BR/DVD to fade out for years to come. 4K UHD has always been an enthusiast format and like Laserdisc, will probably live that way for some years.

the days when everybody and their mother bought DVD or just had cable is long gone. We now live in a fractured market with streaming, cable, blu-ray, dvd, 4K along with wildly different displays used for each as well. The DVD bubble burst for sure, but it's still a multii BILLION dollar aspect of their industry and I don't believe we're going to see the failure of DVD or Blu-ray in under a decade, if ever. But rather a reduction to Laserdisc like status that was the norm up until about 1997

there is one thing that niggles at the back of my mind and needs to be answered to get a proper perspective too. Subscriptions are expected to rise by 86%. HOWEVER, are those subsriptions coming from new subscribers who weren't subscribing to SVOD before? or are those subscriptions coming because even the SVOD market is becoming more fractured and subscribers to Netflix, Hulu, Prime etc are just adding ANOTHER subscription service to their ever expanding list of monthly subs? With everyone and their mother creating their own subscription network we're getting a bunch of new subs. but the question will be, WHERE are those subs coming from? are they all new subscribers to streaming (or are they increasing slightly and cannibalizing their own SVOD market by just adding another monthly bill to the already baptized.

anyways, long story short, some of it is a matter of perspective on where the market is going, as too many (in my humble opinion) feel that for some reason physical is dying OUT , vs. just receding back to a more normal market share after we lived through one of the most engorged times in physical media, which finally had to end sometime.
 
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bkeeler10

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I for one hope that physical media sticks around for a good long time. Two reasons. First, I don't currently subscribe to any SVOD services and don't really want the monthly cost. Second, physical media still provides the best quality, and that's what I want in my theater where I have a lot of money invested in high-quality gear for a high-quality experience.

I generally don't buy content unless it's something I expect to watch more than 2-3 times. I am fortunate to have a local business in my neighborhood that rents discs and is keeping up with that market by actively stocking new 4K releases of both new movies and many older movies being re-released on UHD. This is my primary source of content and I would love for it to stay that way.
 

1_sufferin_mind

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My experience =
Netflix: lame sound + lame picture
Prime: mediocre/good sound + good picture
Roku: Verdict still out
HD Antenna: Verdict still out

I’m turning over in my grave about this state of affairs. Maybe steaming quality will improve, lol. I believe as long as consumers treat movies like music—background activity in favor of social gathering—carriers won’t do much to increase quality.

I’m in the market for my last universal player, but they seem to have quietly been removed from the market!
 

bkeeler10

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^^ Yeah, I've never really checked out streaming services personally, but comments like that are discouraging. I would be willing to embrace streaming if the quality were indistinguishable from optical disc, and I hope it gets there eventually. It certainly is convenient. But I am willing to sacrifice a bit of convenience in exchange for high quality. Sadly it seems I am in the minority (taking the population as a whole, not the A/V enthusiast community).
 

Tony V.

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Streaming may be here to stay but any true audiophile should be able see and hear a difference between a true Bluray and a streamed video of the same. I dont see how streaming of 4k could be even close to the real 4k disc considering they still compress 2k video enough that its noticeable.
 

thrillcat

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I love the convenience of streaming, and the quality of physical media. Probably why I recently set up a PLEX server and love it. I'm able to get full UHD disc quality without the hassle of discs. And I have my antenna connected now, so it's also my OTA DVR.

I have pretty strong opinions on most of the various topics in this thread. :)

Netflix - I wish they'd create a tier with only access to their original content. Their content is fantastic, their catalog pretty much sucks these days. I'm happy with their video quality, but their audio is still compressed Dolby Digital +. I read an article recently that they quietly made vast improvements to their audio encoding process, but I haven't really done any critical listening recently to make a decision. Stranger Things is coming up, so I'll probably do a quick recap of seasons 1 and 2 and see if I notice anything different.

Prime - It's decent, but if I wasn't already a subscriber for the free 2-day shipping, I wouldn't pay extra for it.

Vudu - I still have it. I used it several years ago to upgrade a ton of my SD DVDs to digital HD versions. It was great for that. It used to also be the best streaming picture and sound quality think it's been passed in that regard.

iTunes - The service that's passed Vudu in quality. For quick rentals, or watching my old DVDs in HD, it's great. Plus, they upgraded a bunch of my content to UHD at no cost (nobody else has done this), plus they're pretty much responsible for pressuring the other providers into pricing UHD content the same as HD content, so props for that. The AppleTV is a great device, and iTunes and the TV app are a big reason why.

DirecTV Now - I had it, I was one of the original subscribers. It was good for what it was, I love that it allowed me to use its login to gain access to the separate content provider apps, which the aforementioned AppleTV would then aggregate into the TV app and act as a streaming DVR. It worked brilliantly, and being an AT&T cel customer, I also got free HBO. Well, after Game of Thrones ended, there wasn't enough content to justify the cost, so I recently cancelled this, too. Now I hear it will probably be shuttered eventually anyway due to another merger. I'll probably be looking for a cheaper, smaller package solution when football season rolls around, but for now, I'm not missing it at all.

Somebody mentioned Roku...that's a device, not a service, or am I missing something? I have one somewhere, but it's not connected and I don't really care for their ad-filled interface, so it probably won't get connected.

My big thing right now is the audio quality of streaming. Once they can stream uncompressed, I'll seriously look into moving toward streaming. I think that, when they jumped to UHD streaming and h.265, the video quality made a massive leap forward, but the audio is still woefully lacking compared to disc.

I'm really not interested in having 15 different subscriptions to various providers. If the industry thinks that's the way to go (which all signs are pointing to), then I'll just live with my antenna and my local Family Video. They're going to make people hate their streaming services just as much as they currently hate their cable company. That's what corporate greed does. A new round of executives are going to make the same mistakes as their predecessors, just in a different decade. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.

This turned into a manifesto-level post. Sorry.
 

bkeeler10

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Thrillcat I agree with you on the audio and video quality points. Streaming is very convenient, which is why I have ripped music and DVDs that I frequently use to a USB drive which is connected to my Oppo 103. That has been really nice. I intend to set up a Plex server and get set up to rip bluray/UHD as you have, so all the content I own will be available at any endpoint in the house.

But still, content I don't own will likely be rented via my local Mom and Pop shop for the foreseeable future. Like you, I have no intention of subscribing to multiple streaming services, even if the quality was there. One or two maybe, but that's it. I do have Tidal which I will probably keep because I can access pretty much anything and I do so over and over, and it's high quality too. I don't see myself doing that with video content though.
 

thrillcat

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Thrillcat I agree with you on the audio and video quality points. Streaming is very convenient, which is why I have ripped music and DVDs that I frequently use to a USB drive which is connected to my Oppo 103. That has been really nice. I intend to set up a Plex server and get set up to rip bluray/UHD as you have, so all the content I own will be available at any endpoint in the house.

But still, content I don't own will likely be rented via my local Mom and Pop shop for the foreseeable future. Like you, I have no intention of subscribing to multiple streaming services, even if the quality was there. One or two maybe, but that's it. I do have Tidal which I will probably keep because I can access pretty much anything and I do so over and over, and it's high quality too. I don't see myself doing that with video content though.
I left out music, I have Apple Music, but it's primarily for discovery of new music, and listening in the car and at the gym. I also have a rather large vinyl collection.
 
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