20 years: The “death of DVDs” in context

Just a quick note, for various deathwatch fans who are quick to proclaim The Death Of Whatever–in this case, DVDs, ’cause everything’s going to be streaming any day now…

As noted in this Bloomberg story, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix–who probably knows more about DVD and streaming long-form video consumption than anybody else, and who would really love to see Netflix become entirely a streaming-video operation (as people have noted, it’s not called Mailboxflix)–believes Netflix will be shipping DVDs to subscribers until 2030.

2030. That’s 20 years from now. At that point, DVDs will have been around for more than 30 years and dominant for at least a quarter-century (which has, with remarkable consistency, been the timespan for any dominant audio/video medium to remain dominant or at least very important).

Note that “DVD” includes Blu-ray and, sigh, 3D Blu-ray. Will physical media disappear at some point? Who knows? Will they disappear in the next year or two or five? Not likely.

4 Responses to “20 years: The “death of DVDs” in context”

  1. Seth Finkelstein Says:

    “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway” — Andrew S. Tanenbaum

    (i.e., why physical media persists)

  2. walt Says:

    Seth: I must refer you to Bandwidth of a 747 Hauling Blu-ray Discs, posted July 19, 2006, and Peter Murray’s related post.

    We concluded that the bandwidth of a 747 hauling dual-layer Blu-ray discs in double-slim jewel cases from JFK to LAX would be 74 Terabits/second. (We excluded bare discs or discs in Tyvek sleeves given likelihood of damage. Hmm…we didn’t consider 100-disc spindles…which might increase the bandwidth by another 100% or so.) The latency’s a bitch, though.

  3. Bob Watson Says:

    I think we need someone to explore the “psychology of ownership” in some detail. There’s some real delight in having something sitting on a shelf where, with luck, it will remain undamaged even if unused.

    But I also expect that 99% of what people see they’d just as soon forget.

  4. walt Says:

    Oh, I’m sure there are books on the psychology of ownership.

    I don’t know about that 99% claim, though, at least not for movies and maybe not for TV. We watch one Netflix disc a week–and have a second one handy in case we made a bad choice. I think we skip about four movies a year, and find maybe four more “meh” after watching them–so I’d say our batting average is maybe 15% we’d just as soon forget, with only moderate selectivity on our part. I’d say the average for our TV watching is about the same…

    99%? Wow! Those people need to watch a lot less and a lot more selectively.


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