Is the world ready to ditch physical media entirely?

The people that create The Simpsons seem to think so. Personally, I don’t think the world is ready yet. Many in the Tek Syndicate community are, but the world, in general, is not. Internet access (at least in the US as well as most of the developing world) isn’t up to par for this kind of thing. I know the target demographic of The Simpsons isn’t those aged 50+, but most people that I know IRL that are 50+ don’t buy digital media. (There are quite a few with a Netflix account, but If it’s not there they typically don’t know where else to look.) Last year, Fox(?) launched a website where you can stream every episode. Since then I’ve heard rumors that that they may be pulling all but the current season from platforms like iTunes and Amazon Prime which would make a single website the only place where you can legally watch old episodes. The catch with the website is that in order to watch you have to be a cable subscriber. I hope this isn’t a trend that catches on quickly, as I don’t subscribe to cable (never have and I don’t intend to start). This seems like it would be a bad move: putting all their proverbial eggs in a single basket. (They are rumors, but it still doesn’t seem like a good idea. not to mention that piracy rates would probably go up)

This may be weird, but I still buy CDs. I don’t listen to them; I only rip them to FLAC and then I put them away in storage. It’s the best way I’ve found to be sure to get the best quality. I can then transcode them to whatever quality I want. FLAC isn’t available to buy online for everything yet, unfortunately.

In my everyday PC I have an optical drive, but It hasn’t been connected for 5 years. I was troubleshooting an issue and never connected it again. I’ve since put in a new motherboard, CPU, etc., but I haven’t reconnected it. The only PC that I own with a functioning optical drive is in the HTPC. That’s the one I use to rip CDs and that’s all I use the drive for.

My parents are in their 60’s. It’s an uphill battle to get my mother to try to adopt (or give a serious effort to try) any new technology. My father is much better with new technology. He will put in time to learn how to use a new gadget, but there is a lot that goes over his head. They aren’t complete Luddites; they were using email before many people, they use Skype, etc. But…they both fall into the category of “I can’t find it on Netflix, so I don’t know how to watch it at all. I have to go get the DVD”

I’m curious to hear other’s thoughts on the subject. Could the non-techies (or techies) that you know live without physical media?

I enjoy physical media because it's DRM is far more reasonable than the DRM you find on downloads.


also actually having the game on a disk is more reasonable with the 60+ GBs of game files.the PS4 comes with 400GBs of storage, GTA V (at least on pc) is 50 some odd GBs, CoD advanced warfare was near 40GBs,with 400GBs that all adds up real quick, and i don't think any console peasant is going to hook an SSD into their PS4. As long as consoles exist and people like physically collecting media, there will be a market for physical media, it just might become a lot smaller than it is now.

No because people like to collect things.

And I won't stop buying Blu-Rays until streaming gets lossless surround (DTS Master Audio and Dolby HD). I do rip all my media and place it on my NAS though.


i dont think we are currently ready untill the internet is improved (50down/15up on the low end) everywhere to support all these downloads and that console companies get thier shit together in that hard drives are not expensive and upgrade-ablility is good; id love if consoles could come with a 3.5'' hard drive slot and at least a base of 1/1.5 tb harddrive

Is the world ready in its entirety? No.
Are parts of the world ready? Absolutely.

I could potentially live without physical media. Absolutely. Would I choose to? Absolutely not.

I have physical media as assurance that I infact have possession of the media itself. If, for example, I had all my music on the "cloud" (or even in a hard drive) than I don't actually HAVE that music. I could lose it at any minute if any number of things out of my control goes wrong. With a physical disc, I have a solid piece of media that contains what I paid for, and is available whenever I want it.

I also have a much easier time sharing media on disc, which is apparently considered pirating... But who the hell is going to tell the MPAA that I watched Clerks 2 with my father, then again with my sister a week later? The disc doesn't tell how many times it's played, and the disc player sure as hell doesn't have the ability to. Now an online streaming service absolutely DOES have the ability to show analytics against my wishes, even if it chooses not to. Not really cool with that. :P

Which parts of the world are ready?

Most of western Europe.

USA's broadband speeds are fine, it's the data caps and throttling that are holding you back.

I disagree that the US is ready. Even if you ignore data caps, I would still say it's not ready. There isn't complete coverage. Situations like this are still way too common: Wireless technologies like cellular and satellite are limited in spectrum. They can't realistically serve everyone. In many markets, companies like AT&T have been trying to tear out their DSL infrastructure entirely and replace it with 4G (and a ridiculously low data cap of course).

Western Europe maybe. It's been a while since I lived in Sweden, but I do remember the Internet situation being decent. Recent stats that I've looked at would corroborate that as well. Of course, I don't live in Europe now, so I can't say definitively.

In the UK we have superfast broadband availability across 80% of the country and the Lib Dems want to reach 99.9% coverage by end of next Parliament. Other European countries have similar availability I'm sure.

I mean really going digital media even on a decent DSL connection is possible if you don't mind the wait for the downloads. It's just the general attitude that caps are to be expected which you shot yourselves in the foot with.

Allready have a long time ago

my body is ready

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No, we're not least not entirely. Sure, the majority may have amazing Internet connections, but a lot of potential profit will be lost on those that live in rural areas.

Eh, I have to disagree. 1.5 Mbps is nowhere near fast enough to be viable for digital consumption. After six hours, I'm still downloading a 2.5 GB patch for ESO. And at the moment, 1.5 Mbps is what I'm stuck with, and I'm sure others are as well. People want us to be ready to ditch physical media. I want us to be at that point, but we truly aren't there right now. The ISPs in America must be dealt with first. I was forced to use a 0.5 Mbps connection for the past 8 years. After complaining during all that time, CenturyLink decided to "upgrade" my connection about a month ago. And all they had to do was flip a switch. No new hardware was installed. No lines were run. They simply turned it on, and I suddenly had a faster connection. Now, we're back at square one again with them telling me 1.5 Mbps is the fastest they can deliver.

Companies like Valve with Steam or Apple iTunes have warmed us up to the idea, but all it will take is for a single policy change and access to our media might change as well. I still buy books in print... only because I spend my life looking at a screen.

For the amount of media most people consume, I would say anyone with internet speeds < 10 Mbps downstream could not dump physical media.

I have no physical media at all, just servers and iso images of optical media. If i want what is on an optical disk I simply rip it to an iso and throw it up on the server to be mounted at a later time. I have a completely paperless and disk-less office. Out of all the companies I do work for only one of them is paperless (not disk-less) and they are a document management company.

Especially with movies. Unless you have a great internet connection, blu-rays disks are hard to beat in terms of quality.

I still like to hold real things in my hands. Call me old fashion but I still like to buy cd's from a record shop. I've found so many cool bands buy going it to a real place then I did on the Internet. (Tho I still found alot on the net) something is just lost when is all done over the Internet and you dont Have a human element there to expose you to things that lay in places you never thoght to search in. So agian no I'm not and I don't think the world should be ether.

I still like buying dirty old books that smell Iike mildew

I personally don't use physical media, nor have I needed to for at least a couple of years. I do t think physical media is going to dissappear soon, however I think it may soon be changing to a different format.

With the need for mass storage that is usually used for physical media (games and films) there maybe benefit moving to USB drives instead. They're faster and would re-enable gamers to play games from the 'disk' without the requirement for installation.

thing about digital media is that it has a short shelf life. everything from flaking cd's to bit rot makes it less viable than a book when it comes to longevity. also there's more things digital media is dependent on, like legacy applications that can access the media (if it's old, think real player) and power to run the devices.