Before the decline in movie theaters we will see the death of DVD. This will be happening in the next year or so as broadband gets faster, cheaper and more prevalent. Currently people are hesitant about legally downloading films, similar to when legal music downloading first started. The transition to digital distribution is a vital one and one that is being mostly ignored. The entertainment Bigwigs are stuck in their old ways (Which made them rich) and are afraid of the Internet. But DVDs will be going away before Blue Ray or HDDVD have a chance to finish their format war.
DVDs are incredibly inefficient. First of all their physical space is a problem. They are big, and if you have a collection of a significant size they are a burden. All the packaging and waste they create is another problem. Beyond that is the issue of obtaining the DVD. You have to drive and go get it, or you have to wait for NetFlix to deliver it. Either way, a very considerable effort (in this modern age anyway) has to be exerted to watch a movie. You can get some movies on Pay Per View, but it is limited and you don’t own it. Finally, DVDs scratch and get lost. Scratch a DVD and there goes 20 bucks. You can’t scratch the Internet ….
Once broadband catches up more, every film ever made will be available for download. This will allow for viewing on a computer or a home entertainment system. Either way, there will be near-instantaneous access to an incredible amount of content. No more waiting in line, or waiting for your NetFlix queue, or discovering that what you want is out of stock. It will always be waiting. Film collections will move from the wall racks to hard drives. DVD collections will go to the same place that CD collections have disappeared to – Lawn sales. While HD DVD and Blue Ray continue to battle each other, Internet distribution is sneaking in and taking over. This will be the last Christmas of DVDs.
Extra features and all that jazz will come too, and there are opportunities to do things that you can’t with a DVD. For instance what if directors did live commentary over a movie? It would be a special event where people would watch and they could ask questions via a chat room and the director would answer over the films audio track. That’s just be the beginning of the possibilities that Internet distribution opens up.
I see two models working for distribution that would work. The first is you pay the set price, probably $19.99, and download whatever movie you want. It is stored on your hard drive and a digital rights management program will prevent or limit it from being burned or shared. Devices will quickly be on the market allow for easy transportation of the digital file. This will be essential so that the movies can be played beyond your home. High capacity flash cards or USB memory sticks will act as movie players and hook up to TVs via standard analog and HMDI. With Apple on the forefront of this flavor of distribution, expect an iPod with this capability in time for Christmas ’07.
The second distribution model would be totally Internet based. You buy a movie and it streams live. Perhaps it is cheaper and only active for a certain period of time, or it is full price and you can access it forever. Some issues of sharing would again have to be figured out. Through this model you own rights to watch the movie, but you don’t actually own it. But you should be able to play it at a friend’s house. Someone needs to figure out how to make that work. Also, in order for people to trust this, since they don’t have a physical object or even a file on their hardrive, a big name Internet company might need to get the ball rolling. Google would be the perfect company to do this and perhaps they already have something in the works.
Searching Google for the death of DVD doesn’t bring much up. There is one article that says Bill Gates has declared the death of DVD as well. It didn’t go into much detail and Gates isn’t known for making the best technology predictions. Why is it that no one is thinking or talking about this?
I brought the subject up with some friends of mine while out on Sunset the other night. They wouldn’t buy it. They do not see DVDs going anywhere anytime soon. Perhaps in five years they thought, but no way in one year. But consider how stagnant the Entertainment industry has been technology-wise. The only change has been digital projection which isn’t all that different nor is it causing any sort of large scale change or revolution (There is the view that movies will be sent to theaters via the Net which is likely to happen). My friends did not see their DVD collection going completely digital, even though their music collections have done just that. “Would you have thought your entire music library would be digital five years ago?” “No.” The change with movies is not going to take nearly as long as it did with music since much of the way has been paved with the digital music revolution. File sharing is here to stay and it can be used to make a lot of money.
Whether you want to acknowledge it or not ‘times they are a changing’. Embrace the new or end up at the lawn sale.
Get ready for the death of the DVD.