JB Hi-Fi has released its half-year earnings report for 2018 and once again, the Blu-ray and DVD categories have taken a big hit. Software sales (which includes music, movies and video games) fell by 6.5 per cent compared to the first half of FY2017. This was despite a healthy rise in profits for the Games category.
In other words, JB's movie sales are declining at an even faster rate than the above figure suggests. The act of physically placing a disc into a Blu-ray player could soon be as outmoded as VHS tape. Blame Netflix.
Once upon a time, DVD and Blu-ray movies were among JB Hi-Fi's best-selling categories. Those days are long past, with 'software sales' declining rapidly over the past few years. Here's the damage as noted in JB Hi-Fi's report to the ASX (emphasis ours):
Software sales were down 6.5% and on a comparable basis were down 9.3% as a result of an acceleration in the decline in the Movies category but partially offset by growth in the Games Software category.
This shift in consumer spending habits can be directly attributed to the indomitable rise in streaming services such as Stan and Netflix. More than 3.7 million Australian households now subscribe to streaming services, which is an increase of 30 per cent on the previous year. By 2021 subscriptions are expected to exceed 6 million.
Having already killed off most video rental stores in Australia, it would seem outright disc purchases could be next. For all the talk of online piracy, the real threat came from a disruptor within the home entertainment industry.
This is obviously bad news for film buffs who prefer to buy physical media. As we've shouted impotently in the past, there's a range of benefits to DVD and Blu-ray movies that the 'all-you-can-eat' streaming model lacks - from extra on-disc features to owning what you pay for (and only paying for it once).
There's no telling how much longer JB Hi-Fi will continue to support this flagging category. Blu-rays take up a lot of valuable shelf space, after all. The same decline is also happening to music CDs. (Although ironically, the vinyl category is expanding.)
If you prefer physical media to digital subscriptions, our advice is to start snapping up Blu-ray movies while you still can. This is especially true if your cinematic tastes aren't mainstream or include films made before the 1980s.
Physical entertainment is on its last legs — and they're getting gammier by the month. Before we know it, DVDs and Blu-rays will have gone the way of LaserDisc and VHS tape. To the streamers and torrenters of the world this will be viewed as no big loss. they think it's an obsolete format that's overpriced, prone to scratches and less convenient than digital downloads.
But not me. Here's why I'm sticking with discs to the bitter end, and why you should too. (Also, get off my lawn.)