Do you still buy or watch DVDs or Blu-Ray discs? Why?

Chris Stokel-Walker asked on Twitter:

Do you still buy or watch DVDs or Blu-Ray discs? Why?

I’ve never bought into Blu-Ray, but I do buy DVDs still.


For several reasons:

I don’t want to be tied to an Internet connection

While I am rarely offline, I don’t want the dependency of a working Internet connection just to be able to watch something.

I think a number of streaming services allow for temporary downloads, to cover commuting (not a particular issue for me, fortunately), but that’s not the same as being able to have any content I want on any device I control.

I don’t like DRM

I’m not a fan of DRM. While some see it as an opportunity, I see it as an imposition - I think James Boyle’s description of it as “digital barbed wire” is a good analogy - and I’d rather not put up with it.

I don’t need to worry about whether there is a specific app for any particular platform, or a suitable browser version. And, since I’m using increasingly esoteric devices, the more “vanilla” the approach, and the less reliant it is on a specific app or support for particular DRM in a browser, the better.

As long as there is an app which can handle network media playback, I’m good.

(It may mean me making changes to how I serve the media but, again, that’s within my gift.)

I don’t want my viewing to be tracked

Do I need a third party making a note of every episode I watch (and probably which bits I skip, or which bits I watch again), or which types of film I like? No.

I’m happy to keep my viewing habits to myself, not because they are scurrilous or embarrassing, but simply because they are my viewing habits.

Sure, if I buy a DVD from Amazon (and I do)

I don’t want someone else to control if something remains available to me

If I buy a DVD, it’s mine.

No-one can later decide that a particular film or TV series should no longer be available, and take it away.

Or make it available only through their own streaming platform, for yet another monthly subscription.

Yes, I bear the burden of making sure I don’t break my systems, and I bear the brunt of backups, and so on. I also have to wait until what I want to watch is available on DVD at a price I’m willing to pay.

But what about…

Missing out on the latest “must watch” show?

I don’t watch my TV at all. And I’m definitely not the kind of person who needs to be up to date with whatever anyone else is watching. I haven’t seen “The Squid Game”, and probably won’t.

In a similar vein, even Before Covid, I didn’t go to the cinema much: I didn’t enjoy the experience, even leaving aside the cost.

I’m happy to wait until something comes out on DVD, and even then I’ll usually wait until it’s available second hand.

The time it takes to rip a DVD?

It’s so easy. A minute or so to set it up in Handbrake, and then a minute or so once done to copy it to the right places.

I have not yet found a tool for Debian which lets me add artwork and other metadata as easily as I could on macOS, and that is a bit of a pain.

You have to run your own media server? Sod that!

To each, their own. Setting up an instance of jellyfin was dead easy (for me), and it works well on multiple devices.

It took, perhaps, 30 minutes, including installing and hardening the operating system, configuring jellyfin, sorting the firewall rules and so on. And having another Raspberry Pi and hard drive running does not worry me.

Environmental impact?

Interesting. Running the Raspberry Pi and hard drive consumes electricity. And there’s an environmental cost in someone making DVDs, the cost of shipping them, and so on. And I doubt that they are easy to dispose of other than going into landfill.

By the same token, the environmental costs of running a streaming service must be significant, but my guess is that one additional streamer has a lower environmental impact than that of one additional DVD.

So possibly a worse option on this basis.