Regular readers of It’s A Stampede! will know that over the past year I’ve become a convert to digital media. When it comes to consuming and purchasing comic books and movies, I’m digital all the way, having now given up buying physical copies.
As previously noted, there are a couple of reasons for converting to digital, but the main one is storage space. By going digital I have been able to free up some space at home – something I was rapidly running out of when I was buying physical items (Blu-rays, graphic novels etc).
My experiences going digital have so far been positive. However, over the last couple of weeks I’ve started to notice a worrying trend – the instability of going digital.
Case No.1: The Amazon/Warner Bros. situation
I highlighted this initial story a couple of weeks ago, but for those who missed it the first time around, Amazon is not currently selling any digital movies/TV shows from Warner Bros.. There’s been no official statement on why this is happening, but if you head over to Amazon to buy a WB title you’ll find yourself out of luck.
This doesn’t mean you can’t still access your existing WB titles – so if you own the entire run of Friends on digital you’re OK (for now) – but if you collect The Flash or Supernatural digitally, you’ll now find you can no longer pick up episodes from the new seasons.
Hopefully this situation will resolve itself in time, but this highlights one problem with digital media – it can be withdrawn at any moment.
Case No.2: The UltraViolet service is ending
If you’ve bought a high profile film on Blu-ray/DVD over the past decade, chances are your physical copy would have come bundled together with a free digital copy. Unless that digital copy was redeemable via the iTunes store only, the chances are it was an UltraViolet copy, which allowed you to watch it wherever and whenever, without the need for an Apple device.
If you’ve bought a lot of movies on Blu-ray/DVD then it’s possible you’ve built up quite a collection of digital titles in your UltraViolet library. And if that applies to you, then I’ve got some bad news – the UltraViolet service is closing down.
In a statement, sent to all service users this week, UltraViolet said: “We are writing to inform you that the UltraViolet service is planning to shut down on July 31, 2019.”
After July 31st, service users will still be able to access their movies, but via individual retailers rather than through one central platform. Basically, watching your movies will be less convenient than it was previously.
Of course, this isn’t the worst outcome of UltraViolet shutting down, the movies could have disappeared altogether, but it does highlight the digital problem once again – there’s no guarantee you can access content indefinitely.
So what is the solution to both of these situations?
I don’t think there is one.
I’ve always been aware that if I don’t own a movie physically, then I don’t really own it – and that’s what I always have to keep reminding myself. As such, if I’m going to continue down the digital route I have to keep this in the back of my mind when I make purchases.
If I want to buy a title, be it a comic, a movie or a TV show, then I must only spend what I’m willing to lose. In short, if the price is more than I’d spend to rent the item, then I simply don’t pony up the cash.
The instability of digital purchases is not a good thing and it doesn’t inspire confidence in the future of home video sales. Physical sales are on the decline, but if people don’t feel like digital is all that secure, they’re never going to make the switch.
It’s possible that in the not too distant future no one will own anything and renting and subscription-based streaming services will be the only options available. This isn’t something I want to see happen, but I believe it may be the logical outcome.
The digital revolution has its benefits, but at times it is very frustrating.