At the beginning of the month, I created a survey for the ReDVDit community. It asked about what concerns you had as a collector. Before we get into those concerns, I want to put out a brief disclaimer about the survey for transparency’s sake. I read through every response for each question and categorized them as best as I could when applicable. Some answers were a bit ambiguous, so I did my best to interpret the writer’s intent. There were 65 responses in total, but two of the questions were more open-ended compared to the other two yes/no prompts. One of the graphs has numbers totaling to over 65. All this means is that some people gave more than one answer for that question. Additionally, all charts were created with meta-chart.com. I had to crop each of the images a bit, so their watermark was cut off. Without further ado, let’s take a look at these survey responses!
What concerns do you have about collecting?
Aside from the miscellaneous “other” category, the majority of responses fell into three major categories: storage space (23.9%), cost (14.7%), and new formats (13.8%). I wasn’t surprised that people worry about storage, but I didn’t expect it to be the biggest concern. Depending on how frequently you collect, running out of storage space is something we all have to deal with. Whether we clear out shelves used by other materials, buy new shelves, or even relocate our collection, many of us worry about what happens when we just have too much to store. The second major concern people listed was the cost associated with collecting. Collecting movies isn’t cheap. Sure, depending on your habits, you may not be spending more than a few bucks per film, but even that adds up over time. New releases are typically in the range of $15 – $22 USD, which can quickly make an impact on your bank account. In other cases it boils down to personal preference. I prefer to pick up new copies as opposed to used copies. It’s just another aspect to factor in when determining my budget. The third major concern people had was with the potential rise of new formats (I included concerns involving upgrading to UHD in this category, as it requires new technology to read from the disc). Obsolescence is a concern collectors have every once in a while. It’s not like new formats come out every day, but there have been enough formats that have come and gone to keep in the back of your mind. LaserDisc, VHS, and the almost infamous HD DVD have mostly made their exits. With the possible exception of HD DVD, there are still LaserDisc and VHS collectors, but its hardly a format for people interested in new releases or the crispest picture quality. DVD and Blu-Ray are the formats most widely in use, and they don’t appear to be going anywhere soon. With UHD coming in, however, many people are wondering whether it’ll exist alongside DVD and Blu-Ray, or if it may start to edge out the competition.
Although less people included them in their responses, there were four other recurring concerns. The most popular of these is the lifespan of the format and the discs themselves (8.3%), double dipping for updated versions of films (ex. new transfers, anniversary editions, specialty distributor releases, etc.) (5.5%), the quality of the overall release (ex. special features, picture quality, packaging, etc.) (4.6%), and the abandonment of physical formats (3.7%). The “other” category is responsible for 25.7% of responses, and includes responses that appeared three times or less. Some of these responses included concerns over display aesthetic, out-of-print titles, a lack of a slipcover, or damage to the collection in some way. I’d also like to make note of one collector who didn’t list any concerns, saying collecting is “just a fun hobby.” We all have our concerns with collecting, but let’s not forget why we do it in the first place.
Are you concerned about the lifespan of Blu-Ray?
This question was considerably easier to analyzes responses for. 43.1% of survey-takers said they weren’t really concerned with Blu-Ray’s life span. People who felt this way did have concerns about alternate formats and how long the discs will physically hold up for, but they didn’t expect these things to happen for a considerable amount of time. People who responded “no” (32.3%) echoed these thoughts about the future. The range varied a little bit, but those who responded either “not really / a little” or “no” don’t see any major changes taking place for at least five years, although most don’t expect these changes for a decade or a longer. A fair number of people (21.5%) are concerned about how much longer Blu-Ray will be around. Some cited physical concerns of disc rot, and others brought up the notion of Blu-Ray going obsolete. It’s important to note the history of DVD if we’re going to think about Blu-Ray’s potential future. DVD was released in 1995, and started becoming popular in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and DVDs are still widely produced. If we consider 2003 the end of the early ’00s, then they’re still going strong 13 years later. According to this PC Mag article, the first Blu-Ray player was available in 2006, and gained steam pretty quickly considering Sony’s PS3 really popularized the format. Assuming the Blu-Ray train really started moving in 2008 (a reasonable amount of time for people to get on board en masse), and using 13 years as a guideline, we could possibly get a new format in 2021. Obviously this thought process isn’t based in any scientific reasoning, but it’s still the start of an interesting conversation.
Have you noticed prices steadily rising for new releases?
The majority of answers (53.8%) indicated the greater ReDVDit community hasn’t seen prices slowly rising over the past few years. In fact, some people think prices are getting lower. Those who have seen prices rising a bit (27.7%) have some interesting reasons for why the prices have gone up a few dollars. One response mentioned how it’s pretty common to get a Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital code in one release. Naturally, that would cause a price increase. Some people have noticed prices starting off a bit high, around $23 – $25, but then dropping in price after a few weeks to a typical $19.99. A number of people believe some big studios charge more than is average. While I won’t name any studio in particular, one studio that has had a lot of high-profile releases (especially recently) seems to charge more at retail than other similarly-sized studios. The “maybe” category made up about 18.5% of responses for this question. If a price increase has happened, it’s been a fairly slight increase, and it’s happened over time. Many people in this category mentioned how they only started collecting within the past few years, when prices have been pretty stable with only a bit of change. This group may not have seen prices change like collectors who’ve been collecting for longer periods of time have. Whether prices have risen or not, the current range of prices (roughly between $15 and $20, depending on the types of films you get) seems to be pretty reasonable for most people, so let’s hope prices stay as they are.
There wasn’t really a good way to quantify responses to this part of the survey. Some responses were similar to those gathered from the first question of the survey, but there was one glaring trend I found in this set of answers. People are very concerned about the rise of digital and how it could affect physical collecting. Only 39 people responded in this section (which is fair. Not everyone had more concerns to share), but 20 out of those 39 people brought up concerns with digital home media platforms. That’s 51.3% of this set of responses. I’d think it’s safe to say most of us primarily collect physically as opposed to digitally. Almost all the films I own digitally are the result of download codes from physical releases, and the rest are ones I’ve gotten from a Humble Bundle (plus a film the filmmaker gave away for free). Digital formats aren’t only affecting movies. Music and books have also gone digital. Just like movie rental stores going out of business, plenty of record shops and bookstores have also gone under due to a large shift to digital sales. I don’t think the physical format is going anywhere anytime soon, but it certainly poses a potential change to the format we love. More than one person in the survey included the idea of “digital only” releases in their response. The first studio to do that could be a trendsetter. I don’t know how likely of an idea that is, but it’s possible.
Another common worry about a digital-dominated future is Internet access. A significant number of people still have poor Internet connections that don’t support streaming, least of all at a high quality. One of the reasons physical media is great is because as long as we have electricity and a way to play the movie (and obviously excluding disc deterioration), we’ll always have that movie at the same quality. Sure, the transfer might be fuzzy, or your TV might not be top of the line, but the quality you saw when you first played the disc won’t change. With digital collections, if you can’t download the movie you got, or your connection is too poor for reasonable streaming quality, you miss out. If the Internet connection goes out entirely, you lose your entire collection. If the collection service goes out of business (which, albeit, is probably pretty unlikely), and they don’t provide a way to access the movies you already own, your collection is gone. I don’t see physical releases going away any time soon, but it is concerning that physical releases may dwindle.
I’d like to thank everyone who responded to the survey. I wasn’t sure if I’d get enough responses to put this article together, so the fact that so many people responded means a lot to me. If it would help flesh out an idea, there may be more surveys in the future.
Finally, to the person who said “I just wanna go home” in the additional concerns section, I hope you make it home.