Why BluRay came too late to the Media Game to truly matter
Back in 2011, PRWeb released an article based off a press release from the NPD Group that said “15 percent of U.S. consumers reported using a Blu-ray player in the prior six months in March 2011, up from 9 percent the prior year.”
While I’m sure that is a good figure for BluRay owners, that means that the mass majority of movie viewers still prefer to not have to pay the outrageous prices on BluRay at that time. But, recently, BluRay prices are dropping. What use to cost around $35 or $45 is now suddenly only $20. Why the sudden freefall? Given the trend of consumers in the 2010-2011 period, one could only suspect that the percentage of houses that own BluRay players has gone up in 2012.
To be frank (just as long as I’m not Shirley ), it is most likely due to the fact that BluRay came too late to the game to truly matter in the grand scheme of home entertainment.
Everyone who was born before the 2000s can remember the “BluRay/HD DVD” wars where Sony and Toshiba went head-to-head with sales to let the public pick who would be the next step in the evolutionary chain of at-home movie viewing. But by 2007, only one year after it all began, it was clear that BluRay was going to win the war and, in 2008, most video-chain stores (such as Blockbuster, WalMart, Circuit City, and Netflix) claimed that they would exclusively carry BluRay over HD DVDs, pretty much putting an end to the war.
However, just because the stores began to carry BluRay, that didn’t mean that it was truly the next step in movie watching in the same way that the DVD was the next step past VHS.
But why not? After all, BluRay had better quality than regular DVDs, not to mention they came with two extra discs of the same movie so you could watch your film digitally or in a regular player (in case your friends didn’t have BluRay at their house), and they were loaded with all the bonus features that they took away from the regular DVDs.
So why has the price of purchasing a BluRay DVD fallen in the last year? Isn’t it the best option in movie viewing? Isn’t that what people want?
Well… no. People like convenience and, recently, that word has been synonymous with portability.
Take, for example, my recent purchase of “Cabin in the Woods” (which has its own article __here__). If it had been released last year, there would have been 3 forms of DVDs from which to choose from: basic (at $15-17), mildly bonus-featured widescreen (at $23-25), and BluRay with all the good bonus features (at $28-35).
Now, granted, the inflated price of BluRay DVDs can be reflected in the higher quality and multi-viewing, multi-discs that they give you. However, if you’re like me and enjoy bonus features, it seems like the Entertainment Company is holding the whole reason you buy DVDs over your head to force you to go BluRay.
Except BluRay came a little too late in the game.
Unlike how the VHS was eventually replaced by DVDs (a move that was inevitable), the whole idea of “better quality viewing” in a world that is forcefully High Def already is more of a luxury race than an inevitability. And why is that? It is because people have already moved on to doing more things online, such as streaming their films and storing everything “in the cloud.”
Rather than be an evolutionary step in media, BluRay is more of a quirk in the DNA of movie history. Sure, it has a rather lovely plumage, but it doesn’t fly all that more impressively than the other DVDs, not enough to warrant a shift away from the next new step: UltraViolet.
UltraViolet, the TRUE next stage in media evolution, is simply a digital collection of films that you own. Much like how people would come by to “ooo” and “ahh” at a vast wall of DVDs and VHS, they can now do the same while looking at your online collection. It boasts that you have “total freedom” to watch your films from any streaming device, anywhere you are and that it offers a “better value,” since it protects your collection from the wear-and-tear that DVDs can get.
So, rather than be envious of the BluRay edition, I was able to happily spend $15 on my “Cabin in the Woods” DVD and not lose a single bonus feature because EVERY DVD (be it BluRay or regular) now comes with a code that allows you to upload your film to UltraViolet and take it wherever you go.
Now, this is not to say that BluRays are going to disappear the way HD DVDs did. While they are certainly not the next evolutionary step that they once enjoyed bragging, they will still be around, simply as another format of DVD-viewing pleasure.