Forget Blu-Ray Discs? Movies on Demand is Here

by Joanna Pineda Posted on December 18, 2009

Blu-Ray disc The Washington DC area is expecting a huge snowstorm this weekend but I’m not worried.  I have a fridge full of food and an endless supply of movies through my Apple TV and PS3.

Over the past year, content on demand has matured a lot.  I can now rent and purchase movies, many of them in HD, using iTunes on my Mac, on my Apple TV, and my PS3.  The Apple and Sony networks each have a large database of movies, although the Apple inventory seems larger and the shopping and viewing experience is far superior on iTunes and the Apple TV.  Movies become available on my devices the same time they become available through Netflix and my  neighborhood Hollywood Video.

Which makes me wonder if the Blu-Ray vs. HD battle almost missed the mark.  Blu-Ray is a storage format and scripting platform and it’s fabulous.  But when I purchase or rent an HD movie from a content on demand network, Blu-ray is irrelevant because I don’t need a storage format; I get the movie directly to my drive.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Blu-Ray.  My new Sony VAIO laptop plays Blu-Ray discs and I love, love, love the clarity of the audio and video, as well as all the cool extras on the discs.  So for now, I will continue to buy my favorite movies on Blu-Ray, but for the random movie rentals, I will likely go online and have my movies of choice downloaded to my Apple TV or PS3 in 20 minutes.

How about you?  Are you buying or renting movies online?  Who is your preferred vendor?  Are you still buying movies on disc?

5 replies on “Forget Blu-Ray Discs? Movies on Demand is Here”

Hey Joanna! This topic is really of interest to me because I’m not so sure what’s going to happen. It’s an odd case of “this is where the market wants to go because it makes sense for the market” versus “this is what consumers want.” The convenience of movies (and games) on demand is really the draw here, and I don’t think the quality is what stops people from using the service. The separation and what ultimately makes people balk at the idea is the question: I’m spending money, but I don’t actually have anything in my hand. So I’m buying something but don’t really own it. What am I spending my money on now?

Then we have so much controversy surrounding licensing that, in some cases, can actually make purchasing on demand a draw back. Just driving to your local Best Buy and picking up a copy of the movie on Blu-Ray begins to have so many advantages. Not to mention, there are all the extras included with a Blu-Ray disk and, in my opinion, increased functionality (depending on your player, of course). Also, depending on your connection speeds there are interruptions if you’re streaming and degradation of quality to worry about.

And last I checked, services such as Netflix only had 720p HD versions of the films they have on demand, not 1080p.

In short, renting on demand is awesome, especially with a service that you pay monthly for unlimited downloads. I think everyone wins here. However, purchasing on demand has a long way to go before I’ll even think of buying something on, say, iTunes. In addition, I think we’ll have to see a lot of development of the grid before on demand renting and purchasing becomes the main method of renting and purchasing. There still are so many people even in the United States who don’t have an Internet connection at home, let alone a way to connect their TV to it.

Hi Joanna, I have started renting movies online. I love Netflix. They’ve made it so easy to rent. I can’t even remember the last time I went to a video store to be honest. Netflix makes it so easy to watch movies-whether watch it online or on t.v. Also, having the ability to choose what movies I want to see over the next couple of months is also convenient because then I don’t have to wander through the aisles at a movie store wondering what i want to see that night and then rushing it back the next day or so. Also, love love love that there is no late fee policy.

It’s not nearly as sexy, but On-Demand HD video is available from Comcast for some very reasonable rates. This of couse assumes that you haven’t already fired Comcast (to switch to Apple TV or Netflix only), and that you pay the $8.95/m for the HD converter box/DVR.
But the movies start instantly, no waiting for download. I dont’ have BlueRay, so I can’t compare quality, but I’m sure that BlueRay will win that fist fight.

Thanks for the insightful post. After assessing my movie playing devices, I realized: I don’t even own a dvd player! I live off On Demand, no need! I have a feeling DVD sales will drop, much like CD’s and everyone will just be renting movies through Itunes, or Netflix’s new feature, where you can rent the movie (dont’ ask me how it works) without receiving/waiting for a physical dvd to come in the mail.

I think the only exception will be classics that folks will want to watch over and over again, (I do have a special collection of Audrey Hepburn dvds, and my friends with kids keep the favorites around that they know will have some repeat viewings…

No question in my mind that Blu Ray will soon become irrelevant, superceded by on demand downloads. I now tell my clients that I can provide them higher quality streaming a flash video encoded at 400 kbps than they would get on a standard DVD. When you find yourself saying that, you know that the days of running down to the rental store or even bothering with Netflix via standard surface mail delivery are numbered. Thanks, Joanna!

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