Is There Still A Demand For Discs?


The recent collapse of HMV & Blockbuster seems to have reopened a wider debate about the current and future demand for the physical ownership of music. HMV’s collapse has been blamed partly on the shift to digital music ownership and partly on the rise of online shopping from retailers like Amazon. It came out today that some in the business world still see a future in the HMV model and feel that there’s still a strong demand for the physical ownership of entertainment products such as Cd’s, Dvd’s and Games. Is this really the case and is HMV worth saving in its current form?

Will They Ever Learn?

I can see why some might feel there is a future in the physical ownership of entertainment products but I also feel they’re a little behind the curve and are even clutching at straws. While the physical ownership of music may have died a slow digital death, the demand for physical copies of DVD’s, Blu-Ray’s & Games is still strong, so you might say there’s life in the old dog yet. But will companies like HMV ever learn? The whole reason stores like HMV are in such a mess is because they insisted that people still wanted to own physical copies of CD’s. They ignored the rise of download sales and felt that people would still be gripped by the nostalgia of CD ownership. They were wrong! It now seems they’re making the same misjudgement when it comes to film & game ownership.

The physical ownership of movies and games only remains strong because technology has only recently become a viable proposition in its mainstream digital capability. In the time when people were still arguing that CD’s had a retail future, downloads were still relatively slow and people were still making the migration over to devices that would make this new digital media a part of everyday life. My question is will they make the same mistake again?

Technology is developing and spreading to such a point that it will inevitably make online streaming or downloading the normality for both movies & games. The argument may still remain that people want to own the physical product but recent history would suggest otherwise.

So is HMV Worth Saving?

I’m not saying that the HMV brand doesn’t have something to offer but in its current high street form I really don’t see the point in trying to rescue it. The high street is dying before our eyes and the world of entertainment is making its final digital transition. In fact I find it quite worrying that some prominent business people still argue otherwise. The physical ownership of music, movies & games will soon become a niche market, surely it’s time to accept it and move on.

16 Responses to Is There Still A Demand For Discs?

  1. AverageJoe says:

    Digital distribution is definitely where the ball is headed. I read a rumor that the next XBox will come with BluRay. Why the hell would they do that? There’s no need for any disc-based products. Stream it!

  2. Jason @ WSL says:

    If everything is streamed then that will certainly be where things go. The problem is that you can’t find EVERYTHING within one place. We have Netflix but you’re limited in what is available to stream and what is not…they just need to offer everything in instant streaming and it’d make my life a lot easier.

    • Yeah you’re right Jason things do need to improve, I tried Netflix for a while but it didn’t have enough new movies available to stream. The market is there for a company to provide exactly what people are looking for.

  3. I think it’s moving to where the majority of this stuff will be found online. Like has been said, the challenge will be getting it in one place. In my opinion, discs will soon go the way of the 8 track tape & VHS.

  4. I still think there is a need for physical disks, but not as much as it used to be. The problem with streaming is that no everyone has access to it or can’t afford the internet package that can properly stream these high data videos. I think the Xbox is coming out with Blu-Ray is a brilliant move. Those discs have such a detailed and data heavy data package that it would kill your internet access. You might be able to watch a movie, but you wouldn’t be able to do anything else online. There will still be disc out there, really only for movies and games until everyone has access to super fast internet. I don’t see that happening for some time.

  5. Jose says:

    My guess is that in the future, you will be able to buy the license for the content and watch it on demand. Access for the bandwidth required to wathc movies in high def is already available in many locations. The one thing I’m not sure is whether the producers of content will want this or not, after all, They love to resell you the movie or music when you lose a CD or DVD!

    • I know what you mean Jose, I bought a few albums again when I switched over to an iPod because I’d scratched them when renovating our first home. The record labels have certainly had there money’s worth out of me!

  6. I think there will always be those fans that want a piece of a band, artist that they fancy as it makes them feel closer to the group. I have box sets that are rare and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. The Mrs. has loads of CD’s and many DVD’s although she hasn’t bought any for years. I think there is a future, as long as the people still want to hold and touch something that they can call their own.

    • Yeah I also own some box sets, don’t think they’re very rare but they hold some centmental value. I agree there will always be a market like there’s still a market for vinyl and other nostalgia products, maybe HMV will just have to downsize and operate within that niche.

  7. CF says:

    We are moving towards a culture where we pay for access rather than ownership. We see this with car sharing services, music streaming services, monthly gaming subscriptions…

    I don’t buy DVDs at all and I only buy physical CDs from 2 or 3 favourite artists. Companies need to make it easier for me to buy content rather than “stuff”.

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