It turns out Netflix isn’t the only company getting out of the DVD business. On Friday, Variety‘s Todd Spangler reported that electronics retailer Best Buy plans to stop selling DVDs and Blu-rays in both its physical stores and online. Best Buy confirmed that this holiday season would be the last at which shoppers would be able to stock up on physical editions of movies and television shows; they plan to be out of the DVD business by early 2024.
“Making this change gives us more space and opportunity to bring customers new and innovative tech for them to explore, discover and enjoy,” a spokesperson for the company told Variety.
While this doesn’t feel like a mortal blow to the world of physical media, it does represent further evidence of a sea change in the industry. On a personal note, today brought an email from the excellent video distributor Vinegar Syndrome on some new October releases to my inbox, as well as a discount for Criterion Channel subscribers in the Criterion Collection’s online store. In late August, Disney announced that several Disney+ shows were getting deluxe Blu-ray editions as well.
That said, Best Buy’s move does suggest that the market for people seeking Blu-rays and DVDs is now niche enough that it doesn’t make sense for a more general-interest electronics retailer to stock them — even in warehouse spaces. As Variety‘s report points out, a number of other large retailers — Amazon, Target and Walmart among them — continue to sell DVDs.
What’s frustrating about the shift of DVDs to more of a dedicated audience is the way that the past year has brought a few reminders of the less-than-utopian aspects of streaming. There are unexpected edits to older films, for one thing, as well as the way that some streaming services have opted to take down some of their original programming for financial reasons.
In an essay published earlier this week on Dirt, Jessica MacLeish wrote eloquently about the shift taking place around physical media. “With DVDs, each film is treated as a tangible, unique object,” MacLeish wrote. “Most importantly, it becomes something you can own.” Best Buy’s maneuver is one more way in which this concept is taking a step away from the mainstream.
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