Recently, Warner Bros. announced its Disc-to-Digital initiative, in which the studio will encourage consumers to trade in movies on disc for digital copies stored in a virtual cloud and streamed to internet-connected devices. The program will start with DVDs and eventually move to Blu-rays as well. Do you think this is a good idea? Would you give up physical disc ownership for cloud streaming?
From the consumer perspective, the advantage of cloud streaming is the ability to eliminate the clutter of owning a lot of physical discs while still being able to purchase movies for unlimited viewings (as opposed to one-off rentals from services like Netflix or VUDU). It will also allow those movies to be viewed on a number of different platforms, from mobile devices to a full home theater system.
From the studio perspective, the transition from disc to digital will hopefully help to clamp down on piracy and steer more consumers toward purchasing movies rather than renting. Warner even plans to offer the option of upgrading certain movies from standard-definition DVD to high-def quality streaming for an upcharge fee.
Of course, internet streaming has plenty of downsides as well. A viewer will need a fast and reliable internet connection. In these days of internet providers imposing bandwidth caps on users, that may be a real problem. At this point, streaming still cannot match the quality of a good Blu-ray disc. Perhaps worst of all is the looming fear that the studio could shut down or block access to the server with your movie purchases at any time, for any reason. Netflix users already know the pain of losing movies they had planned to rent when they’re removed from the stream. Imagine how much greater the frustration would be if you had actually paid to purchase that movie. When you own a physical disc, you know that you’ll be able to play it whenever you want.
Where do you stand on this? Would you consider trading in your discs for cloud streaming?
[Note: According to the latest information, the Disc-to-Digital program is not exclusive to Warner Bros. Several studios are participating.]