DVDs ending on Netflix are a warning to movie lovers

Kino Lorber CEO explains why physical media will survive in the streaming era.

DVD is dead. Long live the DVD. The writing was on the wall for years, but for Netflix Tuesday announcement that he was ending his DVD-by-mail business, however, came as a surprise. The business was established only last year 146 million dollars. Still, Netflix is ​​nothing if not relentlessly focused on the future, so DVDs no longer make it to the so-called “holding test.” And they are out. It’s the end of an era for Netflix. Some will no doubt see the DVD itself as another death blow.

We read the obituaries earlier: Blockbuster, Columbia house, and just about every mom-and-pop video store you once perused every Friday night. At its peak in 2005, the DVD industry was worth more 16 billion dollars. But between 2008 and 2019, as consumers weathered the Great Recession and streaming took off, DVD sales plummeted. more than 86%. In 2022, the market will be approx 1.5 billion dollars. The story of DVDs and their relatives, Blu-ray and 4K UHD Blu-ray, is just one more in a long line of new technologies that sooner or later reach their obsolescence. But whether DVDs will be the new vinyl, cassette or eight-track remains an open question. I’m guessing vinyl.

My company, Kino Lorber, did deals with Netflix in the early days, partnering with “Red Envelope” to co-acquire titles that we released theatrically, while they handled DVD and streaming for a while. Today, DVDs are still a bright spot for our library-based business more than 4,000 carefully selected classics and works of art. Our customers who buy these are not necessarily who you would expect. A surprising number of them are from a younger generation who want to hold on to something real that they love and cherish. And the appetite for premium formats remains healthy. 2022 will see industry sales of premium 4K UHD Blu-ray titles 20 percent increaseand we exceeded that growth in our own 4K business.

We see these signs of life because we risk losing something fundamental in the streaming age: pride of ownership. Netflix is ​​not owned. And if you don’t own it, it can disappear. We’ve seen the dangers of this over the past year, with shows being pulled overnight from streaming services who prioritized tax credits over finely curated and long-tail collection. The only way to make sure you can still watch that unique movie or show you love is to own it yourself. My collection includes ‘The Compleat Beatles’, the then definitive 1982 documentary narrated by Malcolm McDowell, which was the first DVD (and VHS) I ever owned, and Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, which I am most proud of. and what inspired me to buy Kino (now Kino Lorber).

Watching a movie tells you something about the movie: the writing, directing or acting was impressive, the marketing worked. But if you have a movie, it says something about you. Like a milk crate full of vinyl records, a shelf full of DVDs is also a manifestation of taste. Fans regularly send photos of the Kino Lorber film wall; they are trophies of experiences shaped their lives. The story of your collection is your story, embedded in you and part of your identity. Many parts of our lives are becoming more transactional and transient. So make sure that when you find something beautiful that touches you, that is perfect, you own it.

Richard Lorber is president and CEO of Kino Lorber.

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