Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Future of Home Video?

If Netflix has their way, we’ll all be watching our movies through a streaming device rather than a disc-based format (Read more here, here, or here.).  They paint a rosy picture when everything will be at our fingertips, and we will no longer need to reach for a physical copy in order to watch it.  The question remains, however: What will be lost in the process?  There’s been a lot of talk about the problem of bandwidth, and how they will be able to keep up with the increased traffic, or the quality of presentation in streaming compared to a Blu-Ray disc, but there’s another issue that no one seems to be talking about.  What about the extras?

In the glory days of laserdisc, one of the big draws compared to VHS was the myriad of special features that could be found on the more deluxe editions (think Alien, Aliens, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, to name a few).  The average Joe or Joanne didn’t exactly embrace laserdisc, but it paved the way for DVD, which included many of the kinds of special features that could only be found on laserdisc, along with improved picture and sound, and the occasional Easter eggs.  Granted, I didn’t always have time to listen to the director’s commentary, and certainly didn’t look at all of the special features every single time I popped in my discs, but I was sure glad that they were there when I wanted them.

Physical Media: A Dying Breed?

Extras are not even a consideration when watching streaming movies.  It’s all about the feature, and nothing else.  No more commentaries, no trailers, no featurettes or stills.  All of this will be lost.  I doubt the folks at Netflix plan to provide this extra content on their site, nor will the studios bother to host it.  Nope, the extra will be a dying breed, and we’ll be back to the good old days of VHS, when we were just happy to have the movie.


  1. Another gripe about Netflix? The lack of subtitles!! The damn xBox makes a hellacious amount of noise while running, and most of the time we watch movies late at night. This means that we can't jack up the volume, like we kind of NEED to just to be able to hear the dialogue over that incessant humming. But neither can we stick on the subtitles, like we can with a DVD or Blu-ray. And I completely agree about the loss of the special features. Gilbert watches those BEFORE he even bothers with the actual movie!! LOL I hope for all our sakes that Netflix does NOT get their way.