Why Streaming Wont Beat Discs In Five Years

August 21, in Audio

Let me go on record right now–if the way things are right now remain in this state for the next five years, without significant changes in technology or socio-political factors, streaming WILL NOT replace DVD and Blu-ray within the next five years.

It’s a bold pronouncement, I know…but you don’t come here for weak sauce and milquetoast ideology.  Plain and simple, unless there are significant changes in the way people live, work, and use the internet, streaming won’t replace discs any time soon.

Why?  Three important factors:

1. Internet access.  Even your standard tiny YouTube video weighs in at roughly two meg per minute.  The highest download speed I’ve ever seen here is ten meg per second, and that’s for a YouTube video playing at roughly the size of your hand.  And in many, MANY, places, Internet access is still limited to dialup or satellite high-speed with draconian usage limits.  You can FORGET about getting all the latest movies on demand, not unless everyone suddenly manages to be able to get ten or twenty meg / sec speeds without limits and without outages.  You’re talking about a HUGE revolution required to access most of the country.

2. Expense.  To watch a DVD, you need a TV, often available for under two hundred dollars, and a DVD player, available for as little as twenty.  Pretty much the same with a Blu-ray, only slightly more expensive.  But to watch your movies streaming, you need a computer or other means of download, a high-speed internet connection (and satellite doesn’t count if you want to watch more than one movie a week) and a display option.  For that, you’re talking at least an LCD tv, often over four hundred bucks.  That’s a LOT more cash to put out, and given the state of things, consumer electronics aren’t going to be a super-huge market any time soon.

3. Difficulty of use.  To watch a DVD requires you to open your DVD player, either via switch or onboard button, insert the DVD, close the player and press play.  Not too much different from the VCRs of yore, just with a different media.  But streaming video can, depending on the source and layout, require vastly, VASTLY more than just a click of a switch.

Until these issues are solved, and to solve them will require downright moonshots in the way we think, live and work, you can forget about streaming (or downloads) replacing the disc.

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