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The Future of DVDs

By Christian Roemer

It wasn’t so long ago that DVDs crushed VHS tapes into oblivion. It was a total knockout.

It was like if Mike Tyson got invited to your backyard Sockem Bopper brawl in middle school and you had to duke it out with him throwing haymakers at your underdeveloped chin.

VHS never stood a chance.

DVDs were better than VHS at everything. They were easier to use, had better features, had more features, were more compact, had better picture quality, had shiny backs, and you could even hold them up to your face and use them as a monocle. The fight was over before it even began.

But how does the future bode for DVDs? Will they be around forever or will they fade into obscurity like most other technologies throughout history? (Except for the wheel. That thing is still going strong.) How much longer will they be around? 

Well, put on your investigator’s cap and go talk to any child under the age of about 8. Ask them if they know what a DVD or CD is. Those blank, expressionless stares should say about everything that needs to be said. DVDs are ancient history, baby, and there’s no bringing them back.

But let’s rewind a little bit. Why exactly are they going the way of wooden ships, Kmart, and Atari? Well, there’s an easy answer and a complicated answer.

First, we’ll go with the easy answer: better stuff came along.

DVDs mainly fulfilled two purposes: they were storage devices, and they were for movie watching. For storage devices, thumb drives are infinitely better. They’re faster, hold more stuff, and are smaller to boot. Heck, even thumb drives are going out of style because of cloud storage. Everything’s moving so fast!

For movies, a little company called Netflix came along and blew up the entire media landscape. Everyone streams now. Who has time to load a DVD into a DVD player to watch a movie when you can instead just click the remote a few times and do the same thing?

The complicated answer is a little different, and it takes a completely different angle. Basically, our modern forms of consuming media are way more profitable for companies than printing and selling DVDs. It’s way better for Disney to charge you a $10 subscription every month than it is to sell you a single $20 DVD twice a year. If we’re doing the math, they get $120 from streaming every year, and $40 from selling two DVDs. Even more, the cost for them to send you a movie over the internet is infinitely cheaper than printing a DVD, packaging it, sending it to a store, hoping it sells. Splitting the profit with a retailer. You get the picture.

Because the way we consume media has changed, there’s just not really much of a need for people to buy DVDs anymore. Unless you’re a weirdo like me and REALLY want to watch Big Trouble in Little China once a month and you can’t find it on any streaming service anywhere, you can watch movies for the next 10 years on Netflix and not watch the same movie twice.

A great feature of streaming is that it’s way better for the environment than DVDs. Instead of creating a whole bunch of plastic that will sit in landfills and never decompose, we just conjure the movies from electrical signals through whatever internet service provider you use. Super green.

If we’re keeping count, that’s three major strikes against DVDs.

Basically, DVDs are in the sad part of their career where they’re doing Lifetime movies and hoping they get a gig hosting some game show. Their time in the sun is over, and it’s only a matter of time until they fade away into the sunset to live on grandparents’ and thrift stores’ shelves until the end of time.

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