DVDs are making a comeback, especially with younger consumers

DVDs are making a comeback among younger consumers, driven by rising streaming costs and nostalgia - Photo by Brett Jordan on UnSplash

The movies you want may be on five different platforms. That’s a lot of subscriptions.

The clues are beginning to line up. In January, London-based research firm Kantar reported that Prime Video had lost 3% of its subscribers after it made ad-supported movies the default membership level.

Then, the April Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed prices of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs surged over the last 12 months, up nearly 29% in a year.

So, the question has to be asked. Are DVDs – a technology left for dead by online streaming – making a comeback?

“Yes, and I suspect it stems from the fact that DVD players are still widely available and that with a DVD, you own the content for life,” Josh Amishav, CEO at Breachsense, told ConsumerAffairs.

A check with Amazon found nearly a dozen DVD players for sale, starting at $22. But savvy shoppers can find them for as little as $5 at thrift stores.

Premature move?

Last October, Best Buy threw in the towel on DVDs, saying that it would end sales of movies and TV shows on disc in early 2024.

“To state the obvious, the way we watch movies and TV shows is much different today than it was decades ago,” a Best Buy spokesperson told Variety in a statement at the time. “Making this change gives us more space and opportunity to bring customers new and innovative tech for them to explore, discover, and enjoy.”

But the move may prove to be premature. Consumers, especially young consumers, are moving back to DVD players. Xavier English co-founder at Supermix, says DVDs may be enjoying a comeback with young consumers, just the way Polaroid cameras have.

“I'm 24 and whenever my Gen Z and millennial friends talk about the movie they last watched, the next conversation is almost always about how it's too overwhelming and expensive to find a movie these days,” English told us. “The conversation after that is naturally about DVDs. There's always one person who proudly tells the group that they've rewound time and gone back to DVDs, and everyone else starts googling on their phone where they can buy them in 2024.”

More than just nostalgia

Troy Neal, founder of Troypoint, which offers advice on streaming content, sees the move back to DVDs as more than just nostalgia. He attributes part of it to actions by streaming services.

“Netflix and others keep raising prices and Prime Video now includes in-stream ads, even with a paid membership,” Neal said. “Consumers are getting fed up with price hikes and annoying ads.”

He also points out that DVDs don’t require an Internet connection for use, providing flexibility for those with unstable or limited access to the Internet. 

Rob Rosenberg, an attorney who spent more than 22 years as executive vice president and general counsel at Showtime, believes DVDs will be more of a niche media product, but tells us it has found a place with consumers.

Better experience than streaming

“There are certain titles that fans are buying on DVD to get a 4K Ultra HD experience that they won’t necessarily get from watching a given film on Netflix or Max,” Rosenberg told us. “Oppenheimer was a big seller in physical media last year. Top titles right now are Dune 2 and Godzilla x Kong, which are similar visual spectacles.”

Rosenberg, who now serves as legal and strategy consultant with Telluride Legal Strategies, says children's titles on DVD are in demand because kids may have a favorite movie they want to watch over and over.

Redbox vending machines are still a source of DVDs but the video rental stores are pretty much gone. So where can you get DVDs?

According to Media Play News, your local public library may now be your best source of renting a DVD. Best of all, if you have a library card, taking the DVD home for a few days is probably free. 

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