Beginning of the End for Blu-Ray and DVD?


Whilst on my sick bed last week I was playing around with my PS3 and entered the Playstation Store.?? I found that PS3 owners in the UK are now able to rent films to stream for a small cost and in some cases purchase films and download them to their PS3 hard drives.?? I also noticed that there were a number of HD versions of films that can be streamed for ??3.99 per play and a number of these have not yet been released on Blu-Ray.?? The picture above, crudely taken with my iPhone, shows the Playstation Store interface and the purchase page for The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973).?? I will be eager to give this a trial of the Christmas break just to see how good this service is.?? Though heavily dependent?? on broadband internet connections, this presents a number of possibilities for the home viewing of film in the UK.??

In the US, Netflix has been growing in popularity.?? For a monthly fee you can rent DVDs by mail or stream them over the Internet.?? A Netflix application is available on the US PS3 and many Blu-Ray players.?? Many films are available for streaming that are not yet available on DVD.?? For example, the excellent cult classic Rolling Thunder (John Flynn, 1977) is still yet to be released on DVD but can be readily viewed on Netflix.?? Why has the film not yet been released on DVD, especially considering the praise it has received from well known genre fans such as Quentin Tarantino??? It is probably not deemed economically viable by Sony, the company who currently own the rights to the film in the US, for release on DVD.?? Yet, having the film available for streaming or download is a much safer alternative in this current time.?? The studio does not have to pay for DVD authoring costs, printing or physical media; it is purely available as 'on demand' for the potential viewer.?? With the general uncertainty over the future of home viewing, with many being unsure whether to go Blu-Ray or to continue buying DVD if it will be replaced in the next few years, 'on demand' services could become increasingly popular.

Another example can be found in the US with the Warner Archives.?? Again, rather than risking producing 5,000 copies of a title that may not sell Warner have opted to make some of their titles as 'on demand' DVD-Rs.?? If you would like a copy of the much lauded US television movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (John Newland, 1973) you can either go to the Warner Archive site or Amazon and purchase a made to order DVD-R for $14.99.?? Though a welcomed move by many film fans a number have voiced their displeasure with the high prices and non-remastered prints.?? There are also no extra features to be found and chapter points are offered during ten minute interludes.?? MGM and 20th Century Fox are following suit using the CreateSpace 'on demand' service.?? Though this is yet to appear in the UK it will be interesting to see whether this form of made to order DVD production will grow.

So, we have two new models of home viewing; the streaming model and the produced on demand model.?? As download speeds increase will we see something akin to the MP3 revolution where the majority of film ownership will be digital file??? After all, I am now constantly running out of storage space for my ever-growing DVD collection.?? But, when it comes to film, I much prefer to own the original DVD unlike my music collection which now almost purely exists in mp3 format.?? Devices such as the PS3 are fully fledged media centres that can play the majority of media files are becomingly increasingly attractive.?? It will be interesting to see what the next decade with hold for home film viewing.

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