Why dvd is better than streaming?
Streaming companies appear to be dominating the world.
But that doesn't mean the DVD ecosystem is dead. In fact, it's still thriving in many ways.
Insider spoke to 10 collectors who scour Best Buy, Dollar General, Amazon, eBay, Half Price Books, Big Lots, online classifieds, pawnshops, and local video stores for DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. Many have collected hundreds - and in some cases thousands - of physical movie copies to supplements their streaming subscriptions.
So why invest in physical media when you can cut down on space, and maybe money, and stream everything online?
Collectors said it boils down to a few reasons: uncompressed bitrates, better movie quality, special features, a more nostalgic movie-watching experience, and greater assurance that you'll always have access to your favorite movies and shows.
"Watching a film on a 4K disc will invariably look better than streaming the same movie in 4K on a streaming site," 22-year-old Bryson Godby told Insider.
DVD sales have fallen more than 67% between 2011 and 2018, CNBC reported, and now make up less than 10% of the total movie market.
The streaming market, on the other hand, is a bloated, $50 billion business, with power players like Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+ reigning supreme.
And Netflix knows that surge doesn't mean DVDs aren't profitable anymore - the company was still sending DVDs to about 2 million people in the US by mail in 2019, the last year it reported such figures. Netflix did not respond to requests for updated numbers.
Streaming platforms may make content accessible, but movies offered on them aren't as high-quality as 4K Blu-Rays, though they're catching up quickly. Bitrates refer to how much data can be processed through your TV screen: the more data, the higher quality, and vice versa.
Apple TV+ has been known to have one of the highest rates, with about 25 megabits per second for 4K. Netflix offers movies to stream up to 15.25 mgps as of last year, and Disney+ offers a similar bitrate. But 4K Blu-Rays offer the highest, with anywhere from 82 to 128 mgps.
In other words, it's worth it to scoop up discs when you can, especially when they're priced so low. Collectors say they average $5.
Ben, who is 36 years old and goes by the name Cinema Adherent on Reddit, told Insider he has 5,000 titles in total. Vinny, a 32-year-old videographer in upstate New York, told Insider he has 3,500 movie titles on his shelf in his home.
Adam, a 31-year-old from Alberta, Canada, said he has 500 DVDs. The same number of Blu-Rays sits on Godby's shelves. And 19-year-old college student Gavin Hebert from Louisiana said he's collected about 1,000 Blu-Rays and a few hundred DVDs.
Insider verified the collectors' authenticity and agreed to publish only their first names for privacy.
"If I want to watch a movie, I don't have to look to see if it's still on Netflix," Vinny told Insider. "I can go to my shelf and grab it."
The collectors we spoke to also have two to four streaming subscriptions from Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max.
"It's unfeasible to purchase every movie I could ever want, so it makes sense to keep a few streaming services to supplement my physical collection," Godby said.
But streamers can offer and then quickly drop titles since what they have in any given month depends on licensing deals with film studios, acquisitions of big media companies, and other factors. For example, Netflix will stop streaming "The Twilight Zone" and "Twin Peaks," two cult favorite TV shows, in July.
"When you own a copy of a film, it is yours," Hebert said. "I cannot tell you the number of times I've gone to watch a movie on a streaming service only to be disappointed to find that it has been removed. It's devastating when it's something you were really excited for."
And if, for some reason, you have to cancel your subscriptions, you'd lose access to content.
"What happens if I lose work and can no longer afford internet or these streaming services, which go up in price" every year? Adam said. "I end up losing that content that I've already paid hundreds of dollars to watch."
And there, of course, is the yearning for the bygone video store era, when movie-watching was more of a ritual.
"Sometimes I just like to go stand in my movie room for a while and look around a bit, even if I am not actively looking to watch anything right now," Ben told Insider.
There's a pining specifically for Blockbuster, the beloved video store that went bankrupt in 2010 when Netflix and Redbox began to take over.
"I have a massive amount of nostalgia for the age of Blockbuster, and having a collection of movies eases some of the pain of video stores shutting down," Godby said.
The collectors said DVDs and Blu-Rays will hang around. Still, they're becoming the vinyl records of the film business, appealing to customers that prefer tangible movie copies for their novelty appeal.
If you did find movies on disc under this tree this year, or if you picked up a few with holiday gift cards, count yourself lucky: Physical media remains superior to streaming in nearly every way as a technical experience. But even more than that, owning movies yourself helps build an emotional connection that’s hard to replicate with streaming.
Let’s start with the most essential element of the home viewing experience: the picture and sound quality. Physical media, which isn’t beholden to the vagaries of internet connections and underpowered home wifi networks, is clearly preferable in most circumstances — even when viewing the highest-quality streaming content on the newest televisions.
Right now, the gold standard in home video is what’s known as 4K. That means that the picture is created using at least 8 million pixels — nearly the resolution of the best digital movie projectors. With a standard resolution of 3840x2160 (or the number of lines of pixels on each side of the screen), 4K offers a much denser, sharper image than the older HD standard of 1080p. (RTings.com offers a useful graphic showing the difference between the standards.) But simply put, 4K offers much more picture information than 1080p.
Netflix has been broadcasting some content in 4K since 2014, and Amazon now offers some 4K content too. In theory, these streaming services offer picture quality that is comparable to Ultra HD video discs, the latest in digital video disc technology, and substantially better than a traditional 1080p Blu-ray disc. But when the A/V enthusiasts at WhatHiFi.com compared the three formats earlier this year, they found that the 4K streaming experience was actually more in line with watching a traditional 1080p Blu-ray — and that Blu-rays had a clear advantage in terms of contrast and color. Ultra HD discs, meanwhile, looked far better than either.
Nor can streaming services handle the latest and greatest in surround sound technology — the gloriously rich and detailed seven-speaker sound produced by the Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio standards that have been around on conventional Blu-rays for years. With the right setup, these audio formats can make big action scenes incredibly dynamic: The engine noise in Mad Max: Fury Road becomes a guttural roar; the gunshots in Heat’s bank robbery sequence almost seem to pierce your living room walls; the pod race in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace ricochets across the speakers as if your couch has been transformed into a desert canyon on Tatooine. Streaming services offer five-speaker sound at lower fidelity, but if you have a modern surround system at home, you’re missing out on the full experience.
The problem for streaming is compression: The picture and sound information has to be processed in a way that allows it to be sent efficiently over the internet. And while compression has improved greatly over the years, it invariably means a loss of information along the way. Darker scenes tend to fare the worst, as sunsets that are supposed to gently fade from color to color turn into blocky digital stripes and rooms lit by firelight start to look chunky and pixelated, like web videos from 15 years ago. Discs, on the other hand, are right in the room with you, sent to your television on a high-quality cable, and thus don’t suffer from the same issues.
There are other reasons to prefer physical media to streaming services beyond the technical aspects. Blu-rays and DVDs often come packed with extras, from commentary tracks to behind-the-scenes featurettes, that can help you understand the filmmakers and the filmmaking process.
Sure, some of these extras are just promotional material. But from time to time you discover something truly revealing: Full Tilt Boogie, a feature-length documentary about the making of From Dusk Till Dawn that for years came as part of the DVD package, remains one of the weirdest, rawest, and more fascinating looks at the making of a movie I’ve ever seen. Brad Bird’s director’s commentary on the deleted scenes of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol shows how focused the production was on nailing the movie’s big action set pieces, almost to the point where the connecting material was an afterthought. The Criterion Collection edition of Michael Bay’s The Rock is worth it simply for the incredibly profane reel of outtakes.
This sort of extra material helps you understand how the movies you love are made, and the personalities of the people who make them. You won’t get any of this sort of filmmaking color from most streaming services.
FilmStruck, a recently launched streaming service geared toward cinephiles, goes a long way toward solving this problem, offering carefully curated programs designed to show off certain films and directors, as well as streaming access to the Criterion Collection, which for years has been the gold standard in collector’s edition home video. The service, which is a partnership between Turner Classic Movies and Criterion, makes a good case as a value proposition. “If you buy three Criterion discs a year,” Criterion president Peter Becker told IndieWire, “you’ve already paid for a year of FilmStruck, and a lot of our customers buy more than three discs a year.”
But even a movie geek–friendly service like FilmStruck runs into another problem with streaming, which is a lack of permanence and availability. Before FilmStruck, Criterion had offered its streaming collection through Hulu. Then it moved, forcing Criterion fans with Hulu subscriptions to switch or go without. There’s no guarantee that an upstart venture like FilmStruck will be around five years from now, and if it is, the titles it offers could easily have changed.
As Netflix subscribers have learned all too well in recent years, streaming services don’t offer access to a set list of titles. Instead, they let subscribers pick from a rotating library, meaning you can never be entirely sure that your favorite film won’t disappear. Instead, you’re stuck with whatever the service decides to offer at the moment. That’s not always a bad thing, but it’s very different from owning a disc yourself.
More than anything else, though, it’s ownership that makes physical media an improvement over streaming services. Ownership means that the unknowable programming gods who manage those services can’t unexpectedly take away your favorite movie. Ownership means having a physical object that you can see, touch, hold, and display on your shelf. It means connecting with the thing itself, knowing that it is yours. And it means knowing that you can watch a movie whenever you want, as many times as you want, in the highest possible quality.
That sort of unlimited repeat viewing is an important part of connecting with a film. There’s an odd kind of personal transformation that I find happens when I watch a favorite movie over and over again. I stop simply watching the movie and start feeling it, becoming tuned in to its rhythms and nuances, almost experiencing the film as a participant, knowing it from the inside. Eventually, it starts to come back to me in flashes and memories, and I start to see my own life on the film’s terms, in its language and ideas. It becomes, in some small sense, a part of me.
This isn’t impossible with streaming, of course. You can watch movies over and over and get to know them pretty well. But the unreliability of connections, the picture and sound hiccups, and the lingering uncertainty about whether it will be available — and if so, for how much longer — make it much more difficult to form this sort of lasting connection.
That’s not to say that streaming services aren’t useful and don’t have some real advantages: In terms of price, selection size, and ease of use, they are hard to beat. The original programming alone can make some services worth the price of admission. Ultimately, though, the streaming experience is more like channel surfing: You choose to watch whatever’s on, from a selection determined by someone else. With physical media that you own, you choose to watch what you want, from a selection determined by you, or at least people who know you well enough to give you movies as gifts.
Streaming may be cheaper and more convenient, but physical media offers the equivalent of a premium, personalized experience — and it’s one that’s worth preserving.
If you own a HDR-compatible, 4K television and a good surround sound system or soundbar, you’ll want to experience the highest quality audio-visual content possible. Blu-ray, particularly Ultra HD Blu-ray, lets you do just that. The formats deliver the best possible picture and sound that’ll fit onto the disc, provided the source material is top notch. Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, Blade Runner 2049, and Pan's Labyrinth (the Criterion Collection release, not the mediocre 4K transfer) have some of the best pictures you'll see at home.
Unfortunately, video streaming’s holes are readily apparent. Hulu’s 4K support is spotty, and its HDR support is non-existent. HBO Max doesn’t currently support 4K or HDR, but that’s going to change starting with Wonder Woman 1984, a movie that debuts this month. NBCUniversal’s Peacock doesn’t support 4K or HDR at all, but likewise says that those features are coming in the future. CBS All Access supports 4K and HDR, but only on certain platforms. On the upside, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Google Play, Netflix, and YouTube do offer video streams containing these eye-catching features. That said, there’s no promise that they'll deliver best-in-class video and sound quality. These features require additional internet bandwidth, because the services must send streams with higher bit rates.
Each video streaming service works around this in a different way. Apple TV+ and Disney+ tend to stream at higher bit rates than their rivals, according to third-party testing(Opens in a new window). That analysis determined that this higher bit rate is “1.5-2x” that of a vanilla Blu-ray disc, but roughly half that of a Ultra HD Blu-ray disc. Netflix recently announced that it switched to new, optimized encoding(Opens in a new window) that halved its 4K streams’ bit rates without changing the quality. Despite that contention, some people did notice lower quality 4K streams(Opens in a new window), something Netflix says is an outlier.
With video streaming services, you can access programs as long as your internet is working. Sure, your internet connection may be fast and dependable right now, but everyone has experienced (or will experience!) a network outage. This is a particularly important issue as you move away from urban and suburban environments where the internet is stable. Some areas have poor internet connectivity; some don’t have internet at all.
Beyond that, some people deal with internet providers that have established bandwidth caps, something that streaming 4K video easily devours. (It’s a problem with game streaming services, too.) If you’re streaming 4K video with HDR and surround sound, you’ll be pulling a pretty hefty stream. Depending on your bandwidth limitations, you may need to upgrade your internet service plan.
Blu-ray discs shine in these situations, because they let you watch a film or television show when the internet falters. As long as your place has power, you can pop in a flick and not worry about outages or smashed data caps. Plus, a Blu-ray disc's picture quality isn't tied to your internet connection's speed.
There are many movies and shows that you won’t find on, say, Netflix. The Super Mario Bros movie from 1993 is horrible, but it’s worth at least seeing once. You can’t find it on streaming. Kevin Smith’s 1999 film Dogma isn’t available on any video streaming service, because the rights sit with Bob & Harvey Weinstein(Opens in a new window). The Basketball Diaries, one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s early films, is also missing from video streaming platforms. All of them are easily purchased on Blu-ray.
In addition, many video streaming services suffer a recency bias. You’ll find the best black-and-white films on services like Criterion Channel or in HBO Max’s TCM section, but the other films from that era are missing in action. Good luck firing up Netflix to watch On The Waterfront. Netflix and its ilk would rather push their own, original programming as they don't have to pay licensing fees for content. It’s a major problem in terms of film preservation.
Not all content is available on Blu-ray, but you’ll probably find at least a DVD release with little effort. And, as you know, Blu-ray players support DVD.
If you really love a film or series, it behooves you to pick it up on Blu-ray. Besides the impressive sights and sounds, Blu-ray discs ensure that you'll always have your favorite content readily available. Sadly, video streaming services often remove popular content.
Let’s say you joined HBO Max with the expectation that you’d be able to watch all of the DC Entertainment-based films. At launch, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was there for your viewing pleasure. However, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises, the other flicks in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, left HBO Max in September to become a six-month Peacock exclusive. If you only subscribe to HBO Max, you can’t watch either film.
Netflix has an ongoing, monthly “leaving soon” news section(Opens in a new window) just to let people know which shows are leaving the service. This is a necessary feature, as movies and shows drift between the services, or fall off into the digital void.
You don’t own the films on streaming services. In fact, you don’t even own them on digital services like Amazon Prime or Apple TV. Some people discovered that the shows and movies they’ve purchased have been delisted from those services(Opens in a new window), leaving them with nothing. If you own The Dark Knight on Blu-ray, though, you can watch the film whenever you want. Besides, most Blu-rays come with a redemption code for a digital copy that lets you stream a movie if you so choose. It’s a best-of-both-worlds scenario.
If you’re a true cinephile, you love all the extra features that come with physical media. Theatrical trailers, director and actor commentaries, behind-the-scenes documentaries, deleted scenes, storyboards, and concept art are part of the Blu-ray experience. This bonus content is something much harder to find on streaming video services.
For example, the Blu-ray for the recent horror film Overlord includes a 50-minute “Making Of” documentary that’s absent in the film's Amazon Prime Video version. Even The Irishman, a film produced by Netflix, suffers in this regard. All you’ll find is The Irishman In Conversation, a 23-minute conversation between director Martin Scorcese and actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. The Blu-ray version, a Criterion Collection release, has that same conversation, plus a “Making Of” documentary, a video essay, a look at the de-aging technology used in the film, and archival footage of interviews with the real-life Frank "The Irishman” Sheeran.
To be fair, Disney+ films have an “Extras” tab bonuses live, and Amazon Prime Video offers a service called X-Ray that drops information about actors in the current. It’s certainly not on par with the extras on many Blu-ray releases. Criterion Collection and a few other boutique Blu-ray publishers include original box art, enhanced packaging, posters, and art books. That packaging, in addition to the care and effort put into the films' presentation, is key to how physical media offers better, complete experiences.
If you only care about convenience, then yes, streaming is the way to go. I subscribe to many video streaming services, and use them on a regular basis. Still, Blu-ray discs offer numerous enjoyable benefits and extras. You probably don’t need an Ultra HD Blu-ray to watch It’s a Wonderful Life this holiday season, but there is a fantastic version sourced from the film's original nitrate negative that brings its old film grain back to life.
Streaming will get you through your day-to-day, but the disc will always be there on your media shelf, showing people you have taste and class. (Or not, depending on your movie selection.) And, when your internet goes down, you’ll have lots of disc-based movie and TV content to tide you over until you can continue binging The Queen’s Gambit.
With the increase in streaming services and the quality of the content on those platforms continuing to go up many people are wondering if DVDs are better than streaming or if streaming is better. This question is quite tough and the answer can be difficult as both have their pros and cons and each person’s situation is different. DVDs are easily accessible and you don’t have to have the internet at your house to use them. Not only do streaming services need a good WIFI connection but you the content of each streaming service changes quite regularly so many people have found themselves in the middle of a series only to have the series removed from the platform before they can finish it!
So, are DVDs better than streaming?
Whether DVDs or streaming is better is really a matter of personal opinion. As of 2019, 62% of U.S. adults were subscribed to a streaming platform while DVDs only accounted for 10% of the home video market in 2018. Based on these stats there are more people who prefer to stream than those who choose to buy DVDs. In regards to which is better each one has certain pros and cons to it so ultimately only you can decide which is best for you and your situation.
DVDs and streaming services may be quite different, but they both are for the same purpose, that is for watching movies, TV shows, and enjoying yourself while doing it! In some cases, DVDs are best in comparison to streaming but in other cases, streaming is better than DVDs. Circumstances may be different and for that, we need to look at the pros and cons of DVDs and streaming. They may vary from person to person, place to place and situation to situation as well.
Before we go more in depth about whether DVDs or streaming is better it is important to dive into the details about each of the two options.
A DVD is a device that is used to store information in audio or video format. If you are a keen lover of watching movies or TV shows, then you can use a DVD for this purpose as this is a great option for that. DVDs allow the users to get the exact data present inside it and without any barrier. While watching movies or listening to audio from a DVD, you will not have to face any problems with buffering or anything like that as data remains intact inside it.
You can use DVDs on a variety of different things including: on your computer, laptop, DVD player, Blu-Ray player, etc. and enjoy whatever you want to see or listen to. These are some of the benefits of a DVD. You can store DVDs of different movies or shows in your home so that you can enjoy them at any point in time.
Streaming services are the facility with the help of which users can watch videos directly through the internet. Streaming videos may be of different types, but to access any of the streaming services, you need to have a strong internet connection so that the video which you are watching can run without having to stop or buffer. Poor connection of WIFI or the internet may be a barrier in streaming and will cause a good amount of frustration.
Streaming allows the users to not have to purchase a single physical disc and they won’t ever have any extra fees besides paying for the streaming service monthly and their internet costs. Everything on the streaming platform will be processed via the internet and users only need a device to download the app for the streaming service to get started. In 2008, streaming services were started by Netflix and from then on, it became one of the best sources of entertainment for the users who are using the internet. Streaming services may differ from place to place and person to person. To use streaming service, users should be well aware of how fast their internet is as well as whether they have unlimited data or have to pay extra above a certain amount of usage.
Let’s compare some of the qualities of DVDs with streaming. There are some pros as well as cons of both DVDs and streaming but based on the comparison below you can easily decide which one is better for you and why.
Both DVDs and streaming services are used by a large number of people today and while DVDs have lost their crown of being the leader in entertainment they are still used by millions of people every single year!
Let’s see the following comparison so you can decide whether DVDs or streaming is better.
In light of all the above facts and points, we can easily declare the winner as being… both of them. (I know pretty anticlimactic, right?)
They both have their pros as well as cons and each method is preferred by people because of the situation they are currently in. For example, I went on vacation recently to the mountains of Tennessee. The house that we were renting for the week said that it had internet but the internet that it had was so slow we were unable to use it for anything besides checking emails! We brought our devices so that we could stream movies, TV shows, etc but were unable to use them because the internet was far too slow.
If where you live has internet like this then DVDs are a far better choice for your entertainment than streaming is. If, however, you are in a major city with incredibly fast internet but no storage space in your house or apartment than having a streaming service is probably better for you.
Those are all great choices, and millions of people subscribe. If you’re a serious movie buff or if you’re creating a home theater experience, there is something better.
A DVD. Yep, those silver discs are the best in-home movie experience. Streaming is convenient, but there’s a huge trade-off in quality. With a basic Netflix subscription, movies you watch are in 480p, not High Definition.
For perspective, a movie in 480p, the picture has a resolution of 720x480, which means there are 720 pixels horizontally and 480 pixels vertically. Standard HD has a resolution of 1280 pixels horizontally and 480 vertically.
Full HD has 1920 pixels horizontally and 1080 vertically 4K and UHD (ultra-high definition) is 3840 pixels horizontally and 2160 vertically. You won’t notice as much of a change on smaller TVs, but if your television is 50″ or larger, the difference is remarkable.
You’ll pay more for HD titles ($15.50/mo) and 4K and Ultra HD titles ($20 a month.) Although their libraries are growing, not every movie is available in 4K or UHD.
Cost isn’t the only factor though. If your smart TV or streaming device is connected over WiFi, your internet speed is likely not fast enough for full HD. Blu-Ray DVDs are all in full HD. BluRay players are under $100 now, and you can even find 4K/Ultra HD DVD players for around $200. No internet is required.
DVD players also have up to 7.1 surround sound for an even better home theater experience. Netflix and other streaming services may offer 5.1 surround sound, but even that is compressed which means it’s good enough for bandwidth but the audio quality is nowhere near what you’ll hear from a DVD player and surround sound system.
Where do you find DVDs? There are Red Box rental kiosks everywhere with a limited selection of Blu-Ray discs for a couple of bucks.
Netflix still has a DVD rental program that delivers to your home.
Another advantage DVD rentals have over streaming is that movies aren’t staying in theaters as long now as they did a decade ago, so you’ll find the most recent titles on Netflix DVD and Red Box rentals.
While Netflix streaming and the other services occasionally get the most recent releases, there are not many to choose from, and the movie you’re wanting to see may not be on a streaming service you subscribe to. Finally, a big reason is psychological. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve flipped through Netflix or Amazon for over an hour trying to find something to watch.
There are too many choices. Renting a DVD is like an investment. You feel compelled to watch it right away.
People love DVDs because they include room for extras you don't get at the movie theater or when the film streams. With a DVD, you can choose to watch the director's cut or the bonus content, such as outtakes, deleted scenes or screen tests. Streaming films offer none of these extras.