The streaming market is booming, but movie lovers are still buying DVDs and Blu-Rays.
Collectors told Insider that physical discs offer higher movie quality than streaming services do.
Even Netflix, which started in the DVD business, still makes money renting discs to customers.
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.
Streaming services don't have the best movie quality
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."
Blu-Rays have better quality, but streaming subs are still worth 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.
"There's nothing quite like holding a film in your hands," Hebert said. "It's equivalent to a novel versus an e-book."
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