Analysis: Owning or Streaming Video

In this blog article I am going to share my analysis of streaming video content and owning it. It’s clear streaming is getting more expensive and having your eggs all in one basket could prove costly in the long term. I don’t just mean subscribing to multiple streaming platforms but being entirely dependant on streaming for all of your entertainment at home.

Many streaming companies have hiked their prices in recent years and are now beginning to rollout adverts. Netflix standard plan has increased from £5.99 in 2014 to £10.99 a month today. You have to pay £15.99 a month for 4K quality video but can pay £4.99 for a month for a standard plan if your willing to accept advertising. Disney+ plans from the 1st November 2023 to move all its current £7.99 per month subscribers to a premium plans that continues to offer 4K with a new monthly price of £10.99 per month. There will be a new standard £7.99 per month plan for 1080p video quality and a new £4.99 per month plan with advertising. Amazon also plan to include advertising in it’s Prime Video as standard from 2024 with an extra monthly cost to access it without advertising.

Meanwhile many people have or still are clearing out their DVD’s and Blu-rays. DVD’s offer a Standard Definition of 480p which is considered a low picture quality but superior to VHS at 240p. Blu-rays offer a picture quality of 1080p which consistent for most streaming services nowadays but Blu-ray is much superior to streaming in picture quality. A Blu-ray is giving upto 40 megabits of picture quality whilst when streaming you are limited by the compression used by the streaming provider and your internet connection which is usually around 8 megabits. A 4K blu-ray with HDR is giving upto 128 megabits of picture quality which would require a very fast internet connection to compete (though in anycase the streaming provider always compresses with reduction in quality).

It’s not uncommon to find most Blu-rays available for 2nd hand at £1 to £6 per movie. More recent releases are closer to the brand new price of £15. Given renting on Amazon Prime usually costs £3.50 a movie for 48 hours you can often save money as well as own a much loved movie forever by buying. The 2nd hand market prices are being suppressed lower as many have chosen to embrace streaming. This means if your happy to buy Blu-ray 2nd hand you are probably buying movies at their lowest prices for a long time. Blu-ray seems to be slowly being discontinued in the shops and if it continues will likely be a specialist collecting medium for newer releases (bought online only).

I own a few movies on Amazon Prime. Sometimes its cheaper to buy movies than rent them from Amazon Prime. The problem is I don’t actually own them. Amazon can stop providing me the movie if they wish. This seems unlikely but has happened to people in other online stores. There can be complicated reasons for this as it’s not ownership like holding a physical copy. Another good reason to have a physical copy is it won’t change. Sometimes online copies are modified due to moral sensitivities and other reasons.

The big issue people have with Blu-rays and DVD’s is the space they take up at home. I have found putting them in plastic wallets with paper sleeves saves a huge amount of space. A standard blu-ray case is 13mm thick while my plastic wallet is 0.5mm thick with one disc and a cover in it. It requires some pre-planning and organising.

A concern with monthly streaming packages is the films they have available might not be the ones you want to watch and any you do like watching are often discontinued after a period of time. I like to watch my favourite movies often. Having a curated selection is important to me.

I believe eventually the market will be completely dominated by streaming and digital copies online. Going without adverts will be a premium option and ownership will be unaffordable for many. Movies and TV shows are becoming like a utility like broadband has become. In essence the media companies are becoming landlords of media and it’s consumers are its new tenants. 2nd hand blu-rays represent the last chance saloon of cheap home ownership of media. I like the fact with my collection it can’t be stopped as I own it. I have peace of mind that I can cancel my broadband and TV license yet not need to resort to just the Bible to feed my soul.

Monthly Price and Feature Analysis of Streaming in the UK