We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

You Should Still Buy Blu-Rays and DVDs, Here’s Why

A shelf full of Blu-ray movie cases
SarahJayne91 / Shutterstock.com

Streaming films and TV shows have become commonplace in today’s entertainment world. With everything you could want just a few clicks away, it seems anachronistic to buy a season of a television series on Blu-ray. But, you may be short-changing yourself with that empty entertainment center. Here’s why.


The Price of All the Streaming Services Is Outrageous!

Assorted streaming app icons on a smartphone screen.
Tada Images/Shutterstock.com

In years gone by, Netflix was the only streaming service in town, and pretty much everything you could think of was on it. Now, every media brand seems to have its own streaming platform. Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, AMC, and the list goes on and on.

The cost of these streaming platforms can put a serious strain on your bank account. In fact, subscribing to just four or five of these services eclipses the cost of the average cable subscription. And cutting the cable TV cord was one of the big selling points of streaming platforms in the first place.

Plus, the price of monthly subscriptions is rising across the board, a trend that will not reverse anytime soon. If you have your favorite binge shows lined up neatly in your entertainment center, you won’t have to pay Paramount+ $10 a month to watch Star Trek whenever you want.

Blu-rays Look Better Than Netflix

Let’s get real; sometimes streaming quality sucks. As a matter of fact, it sucks a lot of the time. Even if you have the best internet connection on the block, you can’t control what happens on the server side of streaming content. Pixelation, slow loading, interruptions, and more are common when streaming video content. And yet, we put up with it because we’ve convinced ourselves of the convenience of it all.

The truth of the matter is that a standard Blu-ray disc contains about 100GB of video content. Granted, much of that is gobbled up by menus and special features (more on that later). However, even if the main movie only takes up a quarter of the disc’s capacity, that’s still 25GB. You’re definitely not pulling that much data when you stream a film from Netflix or HBO Max. If that were the case, customers would surpass their monthly data limit during one binge session. Streaming platforms find several ways to compress films to take up as little bandwidth as possible.

With a Blu-ray or DVD, you know the quality of the picture you’re getting every single time you pop the disc into your player. And there’s no buffering on an optical disc.

Plus, the sound quality is far more reliable on physical media than streaming. Blu-ray discs have two standards for sound, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, and each disc produced by a major studio requires sound to be mastered for 7.1-channel audio systems. And while Netflix and other streaming platforms often offer a surround sound experience, the results aren’t always spectacular. Again, it’s a matter of compression, loading time, and available bandwidth. You can’t expect a consistent experience from any of these streamers. With physical media, you can.

What if the Internet Goes Out?

Closeup pixels of LCD TV screen with color bars and message stating "No Signal" is a television test pattern.
Chermen Otaraev/Shutterstock.com

It’s hard to imagine a world without the internet. But, like electricity, sometimes it goes out. All it takes is a mistake by a utility worker or a particularly nasty weather event to knock out your connection. If you’ve left yourself to the mercy of that technology, you could be left staring at an error screen on the night you planned to watch the first season of Gilmore Girls. And if you end up facing a long-term outage, you may find yourself asking that archivist down the street if you can borrow his box set of Phase I of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because you relied on Disney+ to provide your superhero fix.

You Don’t Own Digital Content, Even if You “Buy” It

The digital movies you buy on VUDU, iTunes, or Amazon are subject to the same nonsense as streaming media. When you buy a digital copy of a movie, you don’t really own it. You’ve simply purchased a license to play a movie or show through a platform, whether it be Amazon, Apple, Google, or whoever. And if those platforms ever lose the right to provide the titles you’ve bought, they’ll disappear from your library. Maybe you’ll be notified, maybe not.

It may seem unbelievable for such prominent companies to lose distribution rights, but it happens. And in the coming years, it could happen more. Amazon can’t come into your home and snatch your copy of The Dark Knight from your shelf because they had a licensing dispute with Warner Brothers.

You Never Know When Your Shows Will Go Away From a Platform

A woman relaxing on a couch browsing titles on a streaming service.
Stock-Asso/Shutterstock.com

Often, streaming platforms don’t own the shows they offer (although this is slowly changing). A platform like Netflix, for example, may purchase or lease a movie’s streaming rights from Disney. There are thousands of behind-the-scenes licensing deals that bring a blockbuster movie to the Smart TV in your living room. And even though companies like Netflix let you know when shows will expire, sometimes your favorite shows will disappear without warning.

This recently happened with the first 10 movies of the Star Trek film franchise. For a brief time, Paramount+ managed to unite the entire final frontier under one streaming roof. Then one day, without warning, the better half of the films were gone, and nobody knew where they went or when they’d return.

It turned out that Paramount had a pre-existing deal with Warner Brothers for those films to stream on HBO Max. They appeared there a month later. However, there’s no way to know how long they’ll be there or where they’ll go after that. They’ll likely return to Paramount+, but do you really want to trust the future availability of your favorite films to the whims of Hollywood contracts?

The Special Features

When you buy a Blu-ray or DVD of a film, there’s almost always some extra content that doesn’t come on streaming services. For example, I recently rewatched the first six original Star Trek films on Blu-ray, and I spent more time going through the included interviews, directors’ commentary, and production documentaries than I did watching the movies themselves. If you’re a fan of any particular franchise, these extra features alone are worth the price of purchasing the physical copies.

There are instances of streaming services offering some extras with their titles. But what you get on home media is unique (and it won’t mysteriously disappear). Remember, a Blu-ray disc can store around 100GB of data, which leaves plenty of room for directors’ commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, and more—streaming services would lose a fortune trying to store all this stuff.

Protect Your Shows From Future Censorship

A re-created film frame from the silent movies era, showing an intertitle text: censored.
Grenar/Shutterstock.com

Your favorite shows are owned by massive corporations. And while the titles you love may be available today in their original forms, they may not always stay that way. Times, values, and ownership all change. One day, the custodians of your film library could decide that your favorite movie no longer fits their brand and choose to edit or remove it from their offering.

Calls for media censorship are not isolated to the 2020s, and the voices calling for that censorship change over time. Advocates for restricting media today are a different group than those who called for it in the 1990s, and their motives are different too.

It’s impossible to know what the future holds and who will wield the reigns of power in years to come. Owning a physical copy of the shows you want to rewatch your whole life provides a bulwark against the people who would take it away from you if they could.

Are You Really Using the Services You’re Paying For?

In 2018, I realized that since the Star Trek library had become available on CBS All Access (now Paramount+), I hadn’t logged into Netflix for months. It dawned on me that all I was doing was paying a monthly subscription service to stream Star Trek, a franchise I mostly own on physical media.

So, I decided to cancel Netflix, telling myself that if there were something I wanted to watch, I’d sign back up. Here we are almost five years later, and I’ve yet to hear of anything on Netflix that prompted me to sign back up for the service.

Around the same time, I got an odd letter (in the mail, no less) from Amazon Prime informing me that I was one of the few people who had never watched a show on Amazon Prime Video. “Surely, that’s not right,” I thought to myself. But it was true. I was paying two monthly subscription services for things I didn’t use. Perhaps you have a similar situation going on in your life. If not, you may save money in the long run by buying the shows you regularly watch on Blu-ray and only paying for streaming services on months you really want to watch something that’s only available there.

It’s Not Just the Movies

A smartphone on top of an open book with dangling earbuds
GAS-photo/Shutterstock.com

In this article, I’ve focused on TV and movies because those are the most visible example of the shift from physical to digital media in the 21st century. But these principles hold for all digital media, including eBooks, audiobooks, music, and even video games. And writing this article made me realize just how reliant I am on digital media and what could happen to the content I love if any of the above-mentioned scenarios occur.

Final Thoughts

Dozens of physical movie copies on a store shelf.
Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com

It may seem like a big ask to get your media library in physical form now. Purchasing new copies of DVDs and Blu-rays at full price can get expensive quickly. However, you don’t have to buy new. What I’ve done over the past few years is make a weekly trip to my local second-hand media reseller EntertainMart. Companies like this purchase physical media from customers for just a few bucks and resell them for a profit. When I see something that’s a great deal, I pick it up.

It’s particularly useful when I see a physical copy of an audiobook I enjoyed and want to display it on my bookshelf. Look up whatever the equivalent is in your area and have a visit. Over time, you’re sure to find the shows you want at a discount. Then they’ll be yours forever, as they should be.

Danny Chadwick Danny Chadwick
Danny has been a technology journalist since 2008. He served as senior writer, as well as multimedia and home improvement editor at Top Ten Reviews until 2019. Since then, he has been a freelance contributor to Lifewire and ghostwriter for Fit Small Business. His work has also appeared on Laptop Mag, Tom’s Guide, and business.com. Read Full Bio »