Maybe I should spend some time at the tape and DVD sections at the library and thrift stores. Of course, then I would need a DVD player and VCR.
Matt isn’t just a funny guy or an enthusiastic movie buff; increasingly, he’s the kind of movie fan that home video distributors are dependent on. Casual buyers might not have noticed, but sometime in the middle of the last decade, people stopped buying movies on disc. Not everyone, of course — DVD and Blu-ray remains a lucrative source of ancillary revenue — but after nearly a decade of double-digit year-to-year growth, DVD sales flatlined in 2005 and 2006, and fell for the first time in 2007. The causes of that fall (which has continued over every subsequent year, and is expected to extend through this decade) were multifold: the recession, the uncertainty caused by the “format war” of Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD, consumer reluctance to keep buying DVDs in the face of those superior formats, general distaste for the notion of buying all their movies over again a mere decade after DVD supplanted VHS.
And then there was Netflix, which launched its video streaming service in 2007 as a supplement to its DVD-by-mail business, only to see the former take over the business so quickly that, by 2011, the company (unsuccessfully) attempted to sever the physical media arm of the service. By that time, thanks to the convenience and low price of both their DVD mailing and Instant Viewing services, Netflix had all but decimated the disc rental market; Blockbuster Video had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, having itself put the bulk of independent video retailers and competing chains out of business years earlier.
Now, home viewers watch movies via Netflix and other streaming and download services like Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, and iTunes. But with each new iteration of the home viewing experience, the volume of available titles decreases. All of the movies available on celluloid never made it to VHS. All of the movies available on VHS never made it to DVD (40-45% never crossed over, according to estimates). And not all of the movies available on DVD are streaming — it’s not even close.