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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blu-rays Continue to Gain Popularity in Home Entertainment Competition

Growing up one of my favorite movies was Beauty and the Beast. The budding love between a grizzly monster and a beautiful bookworm teamed with a talking teacup, candlestick, and clock sucked me in every time I hit play on the VCR—which was a lot. Now, twenty years later, when I feel like reminiscing, I reach for my Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray.

Home entertainment has come a long way over the years from VHS to DVD to Blu-rays and streaming content. As we move into 2011, Blu-rays are gradually gaining ground on DVDs and standing strong against streaming media, while VHS is now fully a thing of the past. In the age of constantly changing technology, though, I’m left wondering if I’m going to need to upgrade my cherished film once again. However, after considering the following factors, I’m confident that I won’t have to adapt to a new format for awhile.

Restricted Content
Last November, Netflix began offering a streaming-only plan—but there’s a catch. Due to licensing deals, their library of streaming content is significantly smaller than what is available via physical discs through the mail. For example, three of the six major Hollywood studios will not distribute movies and television series through Netflix’s streaming service until typically at least seven years after the DVD release.1 Search Netflix. You won’t be able to find award-winning television series like Band of Brothers and True Blood or hot new film releases like Due Date, Megamind, or The Social Network in the streaming format.

Collector’s Items
Streaming media may push Blu-rays to be the last physical form of entertainment. At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, filmmaker Oliver Stone said Blu-rays are about film preservation. “It's the last hardware, the best of the last hardware. There won't be any other hardware now," he said.2 Blu-rays are of a higher quality and come with extras and bonus features that DVDs, and streaming media just can’t offer. For example, the Blu-ray for Avatar trumps the DVD version, offering not only a better quality picture and sound, but also several more hours of material that has never been seen before as well as extra features.

Blu-ray discs offer a sharper and more vivid picture with better audio and six times as much storage space for bonus features as DVDs and no bandwidth restrictions.3 Because of this, more and more classics are being converted from their original format to Blu-ray. There is an immense amount of hype behind the Blu-ray release of Star Wars. The three versions street in September and in less than 12 hours they shot to the top of’s bestselling list, which takes pre-orders into account. But as studios convert more and more classics, director Baz Luhrmann is concerned that the integrity of classic films will be ruined. At the electronics show he said, “Modern technology adds too much clarity to the images.”4 For example, he notes that in new versions of The Wizard of Oz you can see the wires holding up the flying monkeys. However, Luhrmann also pointed out that Blu-ray made it possible to preserve and perfect the MGM musical Technicolor effect he intended in Moulin Rouge.4

As Blu-rays become more commonplace, prices for both the discs and the players have dropped. On you can buy a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player that streams Netflix over Wi-Fi (contradictory, I know) and plays media files from your computer for under $200. And with usually only a $10 difference between DVDs and Blu-rays, it’s a small price to pay for a higher-quality disc that will last longer.

Stats: DVDs vs. Blu-rays
DVDs are still the dominant form of home entertainment, but their sales have slowly declined since 2008. Back then, DVDs sales totaled $18.4 billion. In 2009, sales dropped to $15.8 billion and this past year they fell to $14 billion.5 On the flipside, Blu-rays are gaining market ground. Sales for Blu-rays have nearly tripled to $2.3 billion from 2008 to 2010.5 With the number of households with Blu-ray players increasing 62% in 2010 (partly in thanks to the PlayStation 3), it will only be a matter of time before Blu-ray sales trump DVDs.5

Over the holiday season, six million people received Blu-ray players, and now they’re jonesing for content.6 As more and more people switch to Blu-ray, it may be best to compliment your DVD collection with Blu-ray counterparts. Midwest Tape makes it easy to find the newest Blu-ray releases. Look for links to several of our Blu-ray collections under the Quick Links tab on our homepage.

How is Blu-ray circulating at your library? Do you find more people checking out Blu-rays as opposed to DVDs? Following the holiday season, have you noted an increase in Blu-ray demand? Share your thoughts and experiences here as comments.


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