4K Blu-rays just hit their highest sales ever — in the middle of the streaming golden age

Blu-ray discs
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s taken a while to get here, but 4K Blu-rays have just had their best sales quarter of all-time in the first half of 2022. Of total media sales that includes all forms of physical media — DVDs, Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays — the latter sold about 200,000,000 discs, around 11.6% of the total sales in the last few months.

Likely that’s had a lot to do with some of the fantastic new 4K Blu-rays that have become available in that time — Dune and The Batman chief among them — and the proliferation of 4K Blu-ray players that come inside the Xbox Series X. Unfortunately, however, things still aren’t looking good for the future of physical media.

According to VideoScan / MediaPlayNews and tabularized by Yoeri Geutskens via FlatPanelsHD, disc video sales have continued to decline year-over-year. In 2021 the total sales was somewhere around the $1.97 billion mark and, according to the numbers obtained by FlatPanelsHD, that number has decreased 19% year-over-year. 

Basically, what’s happening is that there are fewer sales than before, but more of those sales are for 4K Blu-rays…which honestly makes sense as collectors likely want the best version of the film available when they make their purchase.

Netflix is losing... but still winning overall

It’s easy to say that streaming video is to blame here — and it certainly is to some extent — but it’s clearly not the only factor: Netflix, arguably the biggest streaming service on the planet, reportedly lost nearly 1 million subscribers in the last quarter and will soon implement an ad tier to supplement its revenue.

That said, the drop in physical sales could be due to the rise of all the best streaming servicesDisney Plus and HBO Max have made huge strides in viewership over last year — and the purchase of digital films via Apple, Amazon and Google. 

In a world with better internet connections, higher quality streaming services and vast digital marketplaces, physical media is struggling to find a way to stay alive. 4K Blu-rays may be starting to pick up, but it sounds like DVDs and Blu-rays could be heading the way of VHS tapes and vinyl records...

Still collecting vinyl? Check out our guide to the best record players in 2022.

Nick Pino
Managing Editor, TV and AV

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.