The recent financial collapse of HMV and Blockbuster is a very telling sign of what the future has to hold for film distribution and the physical ownership of DVD’s. What is it that has caused these two stores to go into financial meltdown?
A lot of people will be illegally downloading movies which will no doubt be crippling the industry however are services such as Lovefilm and Netflix quickly becoming a part of the problem?
Renting a movie from a store can be a difficult task in comparison to the services that are offered online. Finding certain films, especially ones that are backdated often becomes laborious, whilst if those films are available to a wide audience at the click of a button why would you ever need to go to the shops? The simple answer is that you wouldn’t.
The rise of online streaming services is going to make the DVD rental redundant. As a personal experience I have often gone out, spent three of four pounds renting a DVD only to discover that is available on numerous streaming services and various different platforms, so now my first port of call is to check out all the streaming services rather than bothering to visit a DVD shop.
The efficiency of the services is also unrivalled. You can’t scratch or damage your online streaming service but put a disc down at the wrong angle or on the wrong surface and you may well have yourself a problem. This is clearly going to sway people towards the online services.
So what about the quality of the films? Well most streaming services offer movies in HD and rarely does a film struggle with buffering. Blu Ray quality is still only available on disc though Lovefilm can rent you out Blu Ray movies at no extra charge, unlike most rental stores.
Pricing wise the services also offer a lot better value. Most DVD rental shops will charge around £3 for a new release rental with older titles being rented at approximately half that price. Netflix currently costs £5.99 a month for a wide range of available streaming whilst Lovefilm offers various different packages. The most expensive of which is £13 which offer you 3 DVD/game rentals at a time for as long as you like (your next order will be sent when they are returned) this package also offers unlimited streaming from a catalogue with over 7,000 titles. So with that in mind I ask the question, why would you bother going out to a DVD store to get these films when they are available so cheaply elsewhere?
Whilst the UK versions of these services are somewhat inferior to those of their American counterparts, it is certainly not implausible that they will soon have caught up and the moment titles start becoming exclusive to these services then the DVD stores may find themselves in a whole heap of bother.
The music industry went down a similar route and whilst there are still many purists who enjoy owning a physical collection (myself included) many people would much rather save themselves the time, money and storage space.
The rising popularity of online streaming services is undoubtedly a new market and one which will only continue to grow in stature. For years HMV and Blockbuster have been a staple of DVD buying and rental but their recent collapse is a very real sign of the times. Unless DVD retailing companies can bring themselves up with the times they may well find themselves facing the same fate as book stores and record shops – closure.