By Connor Keating / Staff Writer
In the beginning of motion picture history if you wanted to watch the latest film or serial, you had to go to this place called a theater. There you’d sit in a dark room with a bunch of strangers, an overpriced drink in one hand and a bag of overpriced popcorn in the other.
Then television came along allowing companies to broadcast shows and movies directly into people’s homes.
Then something revolutionary happened, VHS was born. They were big black blocks that let you watch your favorite movies at home.
Unfortunately they weren’t all that practical. They had poor picture quality, got damaged easily, and you needed two separate tapes to watch the entirety of ‘Titanic’. So, VHS was replaced by DVD. DVDs were smaller, had better picture quality, more storage space, menus, and gone were the days of “be kind and rewind”. Blu Rays and 4K soon followed, which were DVDs but with better picture quality and even more space, however they didn’t replace DVDs like what had happened to VHS.
The three ways all existed together in harmony. The theater is where you’d go to watch the latest movies, on the big screen. The TV is where you’d watch the newest episode of your favorite show, week after week. And if there was a movie or show you really loved, you’d buy a physical copy to rewatch over and over again.
Then one day, something terrible happened. A serpent had slithered into the entertainment industry with promises of being able to watch a plethora of movies and shows whenever and wherever, for a small monthly fee, but instead brought destruction. I’m of course talking about streaming services.
Right now you’re probably thinking, what’s so bad about streaming services? Since streaming services have taken off, television has been almost totally wiped out. Many across the world are cutting cable, but that’s not the issue. In fact, streaming seems like the natural evolution of television. There are usually no ads, you don’t have to watch new episodes live, and you can watch older shows with relative ease. The problem is that streaming is overstepping its territory.
Picture this, you’re at Walmart and you decide to take a little detour to the DVD section. It used to take up almost half, or at least a third of the electronics section, all those years ago… But now it’s a single aisle, and a few scattered discount bins, or at least it was the last time you were here, but this time however, you notice an entire shelf has been wiped clean of all DVDs and blu rays, and is now a barren wall with nothing on it but a few stacks of Netflix gift cards and some ‘Stranger Things’ nick-nacks.
Streaming killed broadcast television, and its next target is physical media. Most people wouldn’t care like a certain economic professor who I will not name, but as time goes on streaming services get worse and worse.
Trust is a hard thing to come by these days, us journalists know that better than anyone else, and yet people put a lot of trust into the mountain of streaming platforms they’re subscribed to. A while back my family and I were watching ‘ALF’ on Amazon Prime, but one day it suddenly became unavailable, fortunately the entire show is on DVD. But this isn’t exclusive to this 80s sitcom, plenty of movies and shows have been plucked from many streaming services over the years. Sometimes it seems like it’s random, other times it’s being moved to another platform because it was doing too well. Now you’re paying for Peacock just to watch ‘The Office’. HBO max stirred a lot of controversy when they removed almost all of their animated content.
Usually these movies and shows have some sort of physical release, but what about the original content? As far as I’m aware, the only service consistently putting out their original shows on DVD is Paramount Plus … But who wants to say they own Halo on DVD? The other streaming services don’t though.. “What’s the problem?” You might be wondering, well there’s a number of problems.
As I’ve already said, streaming services love removing shows, so how long before they remove their original content just because it’s not doing well enough, or maybe the show gets Twitter canceled. The latter is certainly silly, but in this day and age I expect it eventually.
There’s also the fact that streaming services rely on the internet, so when the internet decides to go out, you can’t watch your favorite show… but I can watch mine.
And maybe one day, streaming will crash and burn, erasing movies and shows from existence with no physical way to watch it.
This all certainly sounds far-fetched, but there are plenty of advantages to DVDs and blu rays. One little payment and it’s yours forever, special features are more abundant, and obscure movies and shows that never have and never will be streamable are common.
How long before streaming takes over and wipes out physical media completely? Or how long before streaming falls and takes your favorite show with it?
The safest thing to do now is to help out the physical media industry.