Posted in Technology

Will streaming video services overtake physical disc sales?

Well it seems that streaming video is all I hear about these days. Between Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu & many others, the competition is getting fierce. The idea of not having to have a physical disc is becoming more and more appealing to the mass audience. Just reported a day ago, Netflix is currently the largest provider of online streaming legal content, running just over 60% of the space, with Comcast coming in at a whopping 8%. Right behind that at 4% is a tie with directTV, TimeWarner and Apple. I would say Netflix has basically killed the market because of its large availability on consumer products ranging from gaming consoles to set-top boxes to HDTVs to blu-ray players. While the younger Amazon Instant Video announcement of free video streaming to Prime members, it can really only be found usable on the Roku Box, which is comical, because the Roku box was the ‘official’ netflix box before it was the major content streaming set-top box that it is now!

So the idea here is though, that no one really wants to get out to watch a movie anymore, if I can sit and watch in my pajamas after I get home from work, I would be willing to pay the price. So let’s talk about the two major ones here, in streaming, Netflix and Amazon. Amazon offers free streaming to their Prime members, which costs $79/year and Netflix offers their streaming only service for $7.99/month ($95.88/year). So right there, you can see, there is almost a $17 difference between the two, but hold the phone. Who has more content is the next question.

Remember, content is KING in this race and it seems Netflix kills this one, too. Netflix seems to be somewhere over 20,000 titles while its closest competitor, Amazon, has just over 5,000. Netflix is an ever growing library adding new partners every month it seems; as of recent, CBS. Now the only thing I can say here is that 28-day waiting period is really the only thing hindering online streaming, since the studios are trying to push DVD/Blu-ray sales back up, since they have sharply dropped in the last few years.  Now I don’t know about rental-streaming services like Apple’s iTunes and Vudu, they may have a different criteria since those offer 2.99-5.99 SD and HD rentals and purchase options. You do have to remember though, that is a per movie basis, just like if you had gone to the rental store, not an a la carte option like Amazon and Netflix has. I have no idea what their numbers are, but I can assume they are high just as well, since it is just a digital version of the Blockbuster model that we all know from years ago. (Side Note: Why won’t blockbuster just die?!) Even Blockbuster is having to switch to a digital model to try and keep what dignity they have left, but they are trying to go the way of the RedBox.

Which Redbox is a whole other competitor in itself! The idea of a $1 rental of physical disc (or $1.50 for blu-ray) to watch a movie and return it the next day is awesome! This is a sweet spot, because it beats the $2.99-5.99 price it takes to rent a digital version that you have either stream or download that has that 24 hour block on it, that you can get from iTunes, Zune Marketplace or even Amazon. I say Redbox is competitor because I hear people talking about Redbox along side of Netflix about the same amount. Especially since you can get your Redbox rental for FREE most of the time with promo code sharing! (I haven’t paid for a Redbox rental in a long time, I’m sorry Redbox..) Now I have always had the idea that Netflix needs to buy Redbox and they would be the king of all movie rentals. Just think, you could go and get your movie or just stream it, no more post office issues that they seem to be having. Now I remember Redbox was testing digital downloads way back in 2009 and as of late 2010, it seems they are adding games, too!

I do have to say this, digital distribution is the wave of the future, and if you are not ready for it, then you need to start looking for some sort of box like the Boxee Box, Popbox or some blu-ray internet enabled blu-ray player. If you are in the market for a new HDTV, make sure you get one that is internet connected! So I’ll leave you with this question and feel free to leave your answer in the comments below; What is in your home entertainment setup? What content do you watch? Do you buy movies anymore?