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Why Physical Media Matters

Why Physical Media Matters

Physically Owning A Movie Is Important

In an age of streaming, people now have more access to movies and shows they never had before. Whether it is revisiting beloved classics or discovering something new, many people have enjoyed it, so much so that some are saying that physical media is slowly dying. According to a report by Variety, physical media sales had dropped by 28% in the first half of 2023. That said, for all the benefits of streaming, it also has its shortcomings, and with the rise of password crackdowns, price inflation, and more ad tiers popping up, physical media is still standing. 

There Is No Longer Issue of A Film Being Unavailable to Watch 

A big issue people have when it comes to trying to watch a film online is it not being available to watch anywhere. Whether it is because the movie is on a service they don’t have or the film simply is not available to stream anywhere, many are faced with a dilemma where they are unable to view the movie they want to see. However, with physical media, this is not the case. As long as the person doesn’t lose or break a physical copy of the movie, they can easily pop it on just like that. 

Another benefit of a physical copy being available all the time is that people can watch their favorite movies wherever, whenever. With streaming services, there can be issues such as the wifi being down or some kind of bug, leaving the viewer without the ability to watch anything. But when it comes to physical media, they can see a movie without even being connected to the internet. Even if the power goes out in their house, as long as they have a portable Blu-Ray or DVD player, they can still keep watching. They can also take those while traveling.  

Physical Media Has Tons of Bonus Features  

One of the most memorable aspects of physical media that defenders will use to sing its praise is the bonus features. Bloopers, deleted scenes, or any other behind-the-scenes content are often a highlight of a physical copy of a film. Many of them even come with commentaries done by the cast and crew, so people at home can hear the thought process that went into the movie. For anyone out there who wants to become a filmmaker, the behind-the-scenes content can be a great insight into how the filmmaking process works and possibly lead to some inspiration. 

Now with streaming services, they have been doing this kind of stuff more and more, whether it be posting it on their YouTube channel or on the streaming site itself. Sometimes they even do docuseries on their shows such as the Disney+ series Assembled (2021-present), which documents the making of the Marvel shows and movies. The issue is that all this behind-the-scenes content for streaming is scattered around, whereas physical media have it all in one place. 

Why Physical Media Matters
Image Courtesy of Shout! Factory

If Someone Owns A Physical Copy, It’s Actually Theirs

Obviously, if someone has a subscription to a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, they don’t own those movies now, and unless its original content, the streaming services don’t own them either, since they are just licensing them on their platform. Many people have bought movies digitally through places like Apple TV and Google Play Movies & TV. However, technically they still don’t fully own them. According to The New York Times, even if a person buys a movie digitally, the site they bought it from can still delete the movie from the person’s digital library, especially if that site loses the licensing rights for that particular film.  Not to mention if that person decides to cancel their subscription to the service, they will lose all the content they purchased on there. 

With physical media, none of these problems apply. If someone buys a movie physically, it is theirs and will continue to stay theirs unless they say otherwise. No one can take it from them. Plus, that person could sell their physical copy if they wanted, which isn’t really an option digitally. For all the benefits of streaming services and watching movies digitally, there is something about physically owning a movie that those things can never replicate. 

Why More People Should Care About Physical Media 

When all is said and done, physical media ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. In 2021, 4K UHD sales made roughly around $1.9 billion, according to Tom’s Guide. It appears there is still a market for physical media, despite some saying otherwise. While scrolling through a digital watchlist might have its perks, having an actual display for someone’s Blu-Ray and/or 4K UHDS DVDs is truly special. Many physical copies also sometimes come with beautiful artwork. 

Even though places like Best Buy have recently decided to give up selling Blu-Rays and DVDs and Sony stopped making Blu-Ray players as of 2019, people still clamor for them. Countless videos are posted online of people not only defending physical media, but even declaring that they are better than having a streaming service. With streaming services becoming more and more expensive, perhaps physical media will start to become more prevalent.

Why Physical Media Matters
Image Courtesy of The Criterion Collection

Why Physical Media is Better Than Streaming (Sam N. Hue)

Source: Dead Talk Live

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I am from Michigan. I am a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University majoring in Film Production with a minor in Media Production.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.