Pop the champagne and up the bandwidth, because 2012 is the year we finally do away with discs. According to a Bloomberg report on IHS Screen Digest, more viewers will stream movies than watch them on disc, an inflection point that can only mean the relatively quick demise of high-density optical media. Streaming will increase to 3.4 billion titles this year, up from 1.4 billion. Blu-ray and DVD consumption will top out at 2.4 billion.
In a hilarious aside, the author of the IHS report, Dan Cryan, noted: “But the transition is likely to take time: almost nine years after the launch of the iTunes Store, CDs are still a vital part of the music business.” He clearly meant to write “of the music business in 2001.”
Arguably there are still plenty of people around the world buying DVDs and CDs but Blu-Ray is ready to hit a brick wall. Why invest in HD movies in optical form when you can get the same quality in a download on your newish smart TV or with a lower-end set-top box. The developing world is definitely still mostly optical, but as broadband speeds increase that could quickly change. Considering most big movies appear in digital form – legally or illegally – shortly after release, it definitely takes the bloom off the release window rose to pick up a DVD months after the movie closed.