Disney just delivered potential death blow to DVDs and Blu-rays — here’s what’s happening

How to digitize your DVDs
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Bad news for fans of physical media: Disney has announced that it will no longer release DVDs and Blu-rays in certain regions of the world due to declining sales.

According to Sky News, the first country to have its physical media taken away is Australia — which will no longer have DVDs or Blu-rays after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 releases on August 1.

Although physical media sales have been declining for years, the final nail in the coffin here seems to be the success of Disney Plus, Disney’s streaming service that competes with the likes of Netflix, Prime Video and Max

No other markets have been announced by Disney so far, but it does feel like this is the first domino to fall and a telling sign of what’s to come.

The slow decline of DVDs and Blu-rays 

Anyone who’s lived through the ’90s will remember a time when VHS collections were all the rage. But, when DVDs came around offering a crisper image and didn’t need to be rewound after every viewing, VHS tapes began to disappear off store shelves. 

Although the circumstances are very different here — the DVD/VHS switch replaced one type of physical media with another — there are still some pertinent parallels. 

That said, the decline and now utter disappearance of physical media is a shame: 4K Blu-rays, Blu-rays and DVDs still present some huge advantages over streaming, which is why I still advocate for owning a 4K Blu-ray player

What makes physical media better? For one, once you buy physical media, it’s yours forever. With shows and films disappearing off streaming services every month, owning a copy of it means it will always be available for you to watch. 

More importantly, however, physical media often represents the highest quality of the film. All streaming services need to compress digital media to send it over the internet to your TV. Physical media is still compressed but not to the same amount and therefore offers the best visual and audio experience. 

Finally, physical media can be shared. I love letting friends and family borrow movies from my collection. Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was a cinematic masterpiece, so when I heard a friend of mine hadn’t seen it, I rushed over to my Blu-ray shelf to give him my copy. (I've yet to see that Blu-ray returned, mind you, but that doesn't change my thoughts on the subject.) In my mind, movies are meant to be shared experiences.

More from Tom's Guide

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.

  • AKJagMan
    Don't forget the issues people can have with limited Internet. Until very recently, I couldn't stream with a darn, as my Internet was lucky to be 10mbits, and if I wanted to watch anything, it was choppy. Cell service wasn't good, either, so couldn't use that.

    Who is going to help the people who are stuck like I used to be?
  • FsS13
    Independent companies like via vision, umbrella and imprint are all releasing and selling physical media and Disney (a big monster of a company) is saying physical sales are declining? Other reasons exists and one is the fact that they want to push the inferior (in terms of visual quality) streaming platform Disney plus even further despite the fact that not all films are available on any streaming platform (smaller independent original and unique films suffer the most along with production of such great films and that’s besides the fact that a physical disc is much more better in visual quality than streaming. Plus the fact that you will always own what you paid for and own physically.
  • dRaven43
    This is disheartening. I collect physical media and love that I definitely own the movie. I can watch them even if they are taken off streaming services, etc. I've read that media purchases on Amazon can be rescinded which is just nuts to me. I also like to take movies on trips and where the Internet access is limited. I started collecting DVDs when I was in the middle of watching a TV series and the provider pulled it from their service. I like to be able to watch my favorites when I want to watch them, not when someone else decides it's available.