If you came of age in the days when you might have had 8 or 9 channels that you received on your television, before cable and VHS, you remember that if you wanted to watch a movie, you had to see it in a cinema or wait for it to be rebroadcast. Sometimes, the rebroadcast of a film would be a major television event, as always seemed to be the case in the early 70’s when The Wizard of Oz or Gone with the Wind were shown.
In the 1980’s, VHS tapes became commonplace. No longer were we limited by the whim of television programmers. We could purchase movies for a reasonable price and watch them whenever we wished. We could even rent movies for an even cheaper price, watch them and return them. We could control our own programming.
Fast forward ahead to the mid-1990’s when DVD technology began to bring digital film to our homes. DVDs could hold even more content that VHS tapes and the quality was significantly better. We were soon able to purchase entire television seasons and control when and where we watched our favorite TV shows. It was suddenly possible to watch television shows without commercials.
Not surprisingly, Americans and people the world over quickly adopted and embraced DVD technology. Millions and millions of DVDs have been sold over the past decade-plus. DVD players are now almost standard features in many models of automobile that are currently being sold.
Now we are approaching Christmas, Chanukah, and other yearend holidays. Gifts will be purchased and many DVDs will be among them. Unfortunately, the day of the DVD is drawing to a close and DVD recipients will soon find themselves with DVDs that they probably will not be using.
I have been tracking the demise of the DVD for the past several years. In 1984, I began my conversion from the long playing record (LP) to compact disc. Over the ensuing decade, I eventually found ways to eliminate several thousand LPs from my collection, only to add a thousand CDs. As I wrote in Five Legal Music Sites that can Save Money, I began the conversion from CD to digital download about a year ago.
All of these conversions, both those in my past and those that I anticipated, caused me several years ago to stop buying most DVDs. I knew that my DVD viewing days were numbered. I just did not know when the end would come. Now I know that the end is coming.
I have watched my local video store (a prominent national chain) change its layout several times over the past few years. My video store now carries video games – a logical synergy with DVDs. About 20% of my local video store is given over to video games.
My local video store is also reorganizing its display racks because it is significantly increasing its sale of electronics. Moreover, by this time next year, the store’s clerks anticipate that they will have an equal number of Blue Ray discs as they do DVDs. My neighborhood video store clerks also told me that Video store is planning to eventually role out download stations in each of its stores.
This all spells the end of DVD to me. By Christmas of 2009, my local video store will be carrying DVDs in only 25 to 30% of its store. The rest will be Blue Ray, video games, electronics and maybe even download stations. Over time, I think it is inevitable that the space allocated to DVD will get smaller and smaller. Whether it is 2011 or 2012 or a bit later, I know that all of my DVDs will be nothing but useless clutter because I will have moved on to digitally downloaded movies. Or maybe I will finally get some sense, and stop buying or even renting movies in any format. With about 200 satellite TV channels, there must be something that I can find to watch on TV…
What do you think? Is it foolish to buy DVDs this holiday season? Are we about to see the end of DVD as a dominant entertainment media? Given the rapidity of technological change, is it ever a good idea to invest in a library of movies in any medium?