Do You Need to Buy DVDs This Year?

Popcorn Home Entertainment launched a service today that lets Cablevision subscribers watch new movies on VOD the same day they are released on DVD (generally, it takes at least a month for movies to migrate from DVD to VOD). The catch? You have to order a physical copy of the DVD.

Let’s set aside the question of why you would want a DVD days after you already watched the movie and ask the bigger question. With movie rentals through Apple TV, downloads through Amazon, streaming through Netflix or Hulu, and even plain old VOD services, do you even need to buy DVDs any more?

Sure, the DVD format has some lingering appeal. The picture’s pretty good, you’ve already got the equipment, and when you pop in a DVD, 9.999999 times out of 10, it works. Plus, we aren’t living in a download utopia yet. The video libraries at Apple and Amazon aren’t exactly overflowing. Comcast and the pay networks rotate a limp lineup of films and TV shows through VOD services. And watching a movie on a laptop computer screen just won’t cut it sometimes.

This isn’t to say you won’t still rent DVDs. I’m strictly talking about purchases. DVDs feel like they cost too much to buy, they take up room, they scratch, and how often do you really go back and watch a movie again? The cost to buy the standard def Live Free or Die Hard on Amazon is $16.99 (not including shipping and tax). The cost to rent the standard def Live Free or Die hard on Apple will be $3.99. You’d have to rent the movie more than four times for the DVD to be economical — how often do you need to see Bruce Willis’ bald pate?

DVD sales are already softening, will this be the year they die off?


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