Are DVDs nearing the end?

The Netflix CEO's comment about a jump in streaming raises questions about DVD's reign and whether media matters.

Watchers of streaming video trends are buzzing after a remark by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in a Montley Fool podcast that DVDs may lose their number one spot for the company's video distribution after two years.

Although he didn't explicitly say what he thinks will replace DVD, a few of his statements seem to agree with what many have been saying since the end of the format war. It won't be Blu-ray.

Hastings said many Netflix subscribers are switching to lower-priced plans that allow only one DVD to be out at a time, but still offer unlimited streaming.

Steve Swasey, Netflix director of corporate communications clarified his boss's comments a few days later. The reality is that all of Netflix services are growing -- including DVD rentals,Swasey said.

"Streaming video is growing fast because there is no base for before two years ago [when the service was introduced]," he said. "You can't say one format is going out or down, all are growing."

Still, an increase in streaming video makes sense when subscribers can instantly watch videos from their computer, Xbox 360, set-top boxes and broadband-enabled HDTVs. After all, the convenience beats a few days of waiting and multiple trips to the mailbox.

Where does this leave Blu-ray? Well, according to a March post on the Netflix Blog (which Swasey confirms is still fairly accurate) Blu-ay is attracting only about 10 percent of subscribers.

The good news is Netflix will continue to ship DVD and Blu-ray media far into the future, Swasey said. Its approach is to continue offering bundled service, where subscribers can choose how they want to watch movies.

Besides, putting an exact date for DVDs' demise would be like putting a date on when hybrid cars will outnumber regular ones, Swasey said.

What is your video format of choice? DVD? Blu-ray? Streaming? Betamax?

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Paul Suarez

PC World (US online)
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