Has Blu-Ray failed?

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by 23skidoo, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. 23skidoo

    23skidoo Admiral Admiral

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    It was supposed to be the be-all and end-all, but I've seen a few signs suggesting the Blu-Ray format might be coming close to fail territory.

    The latest was this blog entry reporting that Best Buy is planning to cut back on its stock of physical media. And while the cutting back on CDs and DVDs, while sad, might not be a huge surprise, the blogger - who admits he was unable to get confirmation on this last particular point - says the employee-level scuttlebutt is Blu-Rays are also potentially on the chopping block:

    http://www.craveonline.com/entertai...a-backseat-best-buy-downsizing-blu-ray-112399

    Just to repeat, the blogger tried to confirm re: Blu-Ray but could only confirm DVD and CD and admits the employee might have been talking out his butt. But all I can say is I've heard similar employee-level statements with other retailers.

    Then we have Wal-Mart. I'm aware that Wal-Marts differ from place to place. I'm in Canada and our Wal-Marts play by different rules than the US - for example I've bought uncensored versions of rap CDs and NC-17-rated DVDs at Wal-Marts here in Canada, which I understand you can't do down south. But at the same time Wal-Marts are getting to be as powerful up here as they are down there. And my local Wal-Mart doesn't bother bringing in Blu-Ray editions of most titles. They do carry Blu-Rays - one rack of them - and will bring in "select" new release titles on Blu-Ray. But, for example, I made the mistake of buying the Fringe Season 2 DVD at my local Wal-Mart without first checking if a Blu-Ray version existed. Oops. And while they had an entire display of DVD copies of the new Tinker Bell CG movie, they had all of 3 copies of the Blu-Ray hidden away in another part of the store. At the same time, they're now starting to burn off some of their Blu-Ray backstock for $5 each. I didn't expect to see that happen for a while.

    My own equivalent of employee-level scuttlebutt came when I asked a manager at my local Wal-Mart why they bring in so few new-release Blu-Rays and I was told, simply, that Blu-Ray doesn't sell. And remember Wal-Mart is trying to position itself to be the only store people go to, especially the new Supercenter Wal-Marts, some of which are larger than some countries, it seems. And I live in a fairly affluent area. But maybe people are just buying those HD sets to watch documentaries about nature and sports like all the store demos suggest? That, or maybe by placing the DVD new releases in high-traffic areas and hiding the Blu-Rays away (a few Wal-Marts keep their entire new-release Blu-Ray stock under lock and key in cabinets) - and by, well, NOT ORDERING, they're not giving BD a chance to take a foothold. Had they carried the BD of Fringe I'd have bought it instead of the DVD, for example. Likewise, they brought in the new Human Target season set on DVD, but I'm not making the same mistake so I'll roll the dice that Best Buy or HMV will indeed have the BD version in stock. Hence they lost a $50 sale.

    So is Blu-Ray actually crashing and burning? Maybe not, but I am wondering if it isn't a victim of timing, coming during a period when many consumers - especially the young ones - aren't interested in (as Blank Reg from Max Headroom once marvelously defined) "non-volatile physical media" and, indeed, goods ownership in general. Certainly the whole Best Buy discussion in that blog is predicated on this.

    For me, I have to say Blu-Ray hasn't been the be all and end all. Most of what I watch are older films and TV shows that aren't releasable on BD anyway - I just put in my order for Time-Life's Six Million Dollar Man set, for example. I worked out that in the past year I've probably bought 50-75 DVDs and maybe 25 Blu-Rays, tops, and only maybe half of those would qualify as "new releases" such as the new Alice in Wonderland which I finally got around to getting a few weeks ago. And as I ranted in another thread, my negative experience with the THX1138 Blu-Ray (which requires memory expansion on many players in order to function, a fact I wasn't made aware of until after I tried to play the thing) ended my purchasing of Blu-Rays on spec.

    But all that said, I still expected BD to be more ubiquitous by now. Not that I want DVD to disappear. As I just said there are many shows that cannot be released in high-def. Lets start with classic Doctor Who, for example. Or Six Million Dollar Man. Or old Charlie Chaplin silents, for that matter. Unlike the vinyl-to-CD switch I see no reason why DVD and Blu-Ray won't coexist for the duration - the fact you have BD box sets that use DVD discs for bonus material is proof.

    So what's the point of all this? Well, take it as you will. If you want a "glass half full" attitude, keep an eye out for some sweet deals on "non-volatile physical media" if indeed Best Buy is cutting back on CDs and DVDs - and maybe not be surprised if Blu-Rays follow. The $5 deal on Blu-Rays at Wal-Mart caught me by surprise and while they were generally of the no-frills, older type of Blu-Ray (that "no on-spec" rule I've applied to my BD purchases doesn't really apply to discs costing less than a Starbucks espresso) it'll be interesting to see if something like Alice in Wonderland doesn't follow on.

    Let's hear from the "Chucks" in the audience. ;) Are you hearing the same thing as that blogger? Or is your Best Buy/Future Shop/Wal-Mart/HMV/insert chain store going the opposite route and expanding its Blu-Rays because they're flying off the shelves?

    Alex
     
  2. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which is why Netflix is up 42% in terms of membership year on year, many people like myself aren't interested in owning a film but we are interested in seeing it, so rental is the most sensible option.
     
  3. Kataaran

    Kataaran Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I've avoided Blu-Ray primarily because of the aggressive DRM and that the discs cost three times what a DVD costs. Also I didn't like Sony ramming the technology down everyones throats via the PS3 just to win the format war. "No, Sony I won't buy your massively overpriced console just so you an win a pissing contest. I'll buy an Xbox and a Wii instead."

    I feel much better after that :)
     
  4. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Who cares what Wal-Mart thinks? Blu-Ray isn't dead.
     
  5. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My own (admittedly highly subjective) impression is that Blu-Ray is slowly but surely supplanting DVD. Every store where I shop seems to be gradually expanding its Blu-Ray selection and gradually contracting its DVD selection.

    It reminds me a bit of the transition from LP and cassette to CD. LPs and cassettes didn't disappear overnight: there was a long period when both analog and digital were readily available.
     
  6. Eris Morn

    Eris Morn Badass Admiral

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    No offense 23skidoo, but you're basically citing anecdotal evidence there, that's just not a great basis for discussion.

    Personally, I'm going to get a Blu-Ray player as soon as I get my PS3 - but that's rather circumstantial, since I'm not getting the console because of the player functionality.
     
  7. Pingfah

    Pingfah Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Still are, I bought 3 newly released albums this week, all on vinyl. :D
     
  8. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Luddite. :p
     
  9. PsychoPere

    PsychoPere Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As for the comments from the Best Buy CEO, you can see more on that here, including a statement from Best Buy's public relations department that says "[...] Blu-ray especially remains an important part of entertainment at Best Buy." So, yes, a reset is coming to make room for other items, but that doesn't mean that Blu-ray is going away in their stores. For another piece of anecdotal evidence, my two local Best Buys both have two aisles set-up where each side of the aisle is only Blu-ray titles. Those are almost all movies, though; their TV on Blu-ray selections are extremely small, but I prefer to buy those online anyways since I can get them for much lower prices through Amazon.
     
  10. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell memelord Premium Member

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  11. Guartho

    Guartho Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Since I got Netflix I've stopped buying DVDs. I buy much fewer movies period and the ones I do buy are must-own's. So, the "rule" in my house is "if it's worth owning, it's worth owning on Blu-ray." Consequently very few movies pass the "Is it worth owning?" test. I think the last Blu-ray discs I purchased were Toy Story 1 & 2. Before that it was Star Trek when it was on a special sale (same price as the DVD) within the first month after it was released on disc.
     
  12. Pingfah

    Pingfah Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Yes, the advent of Blu Ray has pretty much stopped me buying new movies altogether. I don't want to buy DVDs anymore because the inferior quality is offputting, and I don't want to buy Blu Rays because they are too expensive.

    Like a lot of people I am sticking to updating the "best of the best" of my DVD collection to Blu Ray when I see a real bargain, mostly sci-fi movies, and just waiting for Blu Rays to come down in price before I buy any new movies and watching the movies by whatever other means I can.
     
  13. OdoWanKenobi

    OdoWanKenobi Admiral Admiral

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    I don't know about you guys, but all of the Wal Marts in my area have replaced their center aisle DVD rack with a Blu-Ray one. That to me almost certainly suggests that Blu-Ray is on the rise.
     
  14. gh4chiefs

    gh4chiefs Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah I'd say if there is any slowing of Blu-ray purchases, it may have a lot to do with Netflix and other like services rather than a failure of the format per se. I used to be a rabid "box set" purchaser and I've quit that after becoming a Netflix user.

    That being said, I will also have to say, as once being a big defender of blu-ray I've kind of lost interest in it. I've discovered that for most titles, as long as I have good blu-ray player hooked to the HDTV via HDMI, that the DVDs look good enough to make me not want to spend the extra $ for the blu-ray version. There are exceptions of course, the Magnum PI DVDs still look pretty crappy for example, but a lot of the modern movie releases look fine on DVD. In other words, my blu-ray players is used more as an upconverting DVD player than an actual blu-ray player.
     
  15. Guartho

    Guartho Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's the other thing. A well-mastered DVD looks just as good on my 32" TV from even as close as 6 feet. HDTVs are getting in to most houses now, but most of them are about the same size as mine.

    On a true home-theater, the difference is astounding of course, but the majority of the movie-buying public has a living room more like mine.

    Blu-ray is not going anywhere, but right now I give it 50/50 odds on whether it becomes the next DVD vs. the next Laserdisc.
     
  16. gh4chiefs

    gh4chiefs Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I guess after thinking about this some more, I'm coming to the realization that I'm not buying any videos any more in either format, I've finally broken that addiction. But in all honesty, if there was a movie out that I just decided I just had to have, I probably would be more inclined to buy it in blu-ray. I guess my logic being I IF really wanted to own it, I might as well own the best format possible.


    EDIT TO ADD: For example, I will probably buy The Pacific when it comes out and I probably will get that on blu-ray.

    But I haven't been willing to pay the blu-ray upcharge on Netflix because of my previous comment about DVD quality in a blu-ray player. For rentals, DVD is fine.
     
  17. Sparky

    Sparky Commodore Commodore

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    Blu-Ray has not failed. However it will never reach the popularity of DVD. Upgrading from VHS to DVD was a revelation. (I'm not including Laserdisc because that really was a niche format.) Everything about DVD was superior and new and fresh. The obvious quality difference could be seen on pretty much every tv set. Menus, chapters, bonus features etc all offered compelling reasons to purchase the new format. Blu-Ray is just an extension of that. Yes it offers better picture and sound quality but unless you have a large enough tv most people won't even notice the difference. It is not nearly the revelation that DVD was. The players themselves have just recently entered the price range where it is not a major investment to purchase one. Like many others I have built up a decent DVD collection and I am quite adverse to re-purchasing Blu-Ray versions of movies I already own on DVD. Like Pingfah said above only the "best of the best" get upgraded.

    Instant streaming is another threat to Blu-Ray (and DVD). Services like Netflix are on so many different devices and are starting to get a decent selection that it is easier to just press play instead of going to the store to rent or purchase a movie. The image quality of the stream hovers around DVD quality and for a lot of people this is "good enough." Factor in $1 redbox rentals, Xbox and Playstation stores and VOD services from the ever expanding group of people who now have Digital or PVR boxes and Blu-Ray has a LOT of competition that DVD never had at similar points in their lifecycles.

    Compared to the meteoric success of DVD then yes Blu-Ray has failed. If you look at the current market and the competition then Blu-Ray is now one of many valid choices for your entertainment dollar.
     
  18. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think lots of folks have pointed out that Blu-Ray is transitional, the last "hard" medium that is likely to exist before the main delivery channel for entertainment is some kind of online thing. Videotape dominated for close to - what, twenty years? - DVD for about half of that; Blu-Ray may simply not be around long enough to ever saturate the market.

    Plus, of course, American consumers are not exactly flush right now.
     
  19. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    How exactly is the PS3 massively overpriced? At the time I bought mine, it was exactly the same price as an XBOX 360. Especially with the fact that the PS3 doubles as a Blu-Ray player, I think it was an even better value.


    As for Blu-Ray, the biggest problem the format has is that a lot of movies just aren't worth the extra money. I really only use it to buy movies that I think would look really cool in HD. Otherwise, regular DVDs get the job done just fine and usually cost half as much.

    That said, you can definitely find really good deals on Blu-Ray discs if you look for them.
     
  20. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly. The only thing holding blueray back right now is the cost. At $15, I was buying DVDs for pretty much any movie I found remotely entertaining, or that I was curious to see. But when the average blueray costs about ten bucks more than that, I suddenly find myself being a LOT choosier.

    I'm definitely not going to waste a blueray purchase on a dumb comedy like The Hangover, that's for sure.