I read various tech blogs and listen to various tech podcasts, and when it comes up, the one thing most of those folks seem to agree on is that the future of the home video market is not in Blu-ray discs, but rather in streaming video over the Internet. I certainly hope they’re wrong, and here’s why: streaming loses too much of the content I might want.
Right now, streaming video does exactly that: it streams a video program (with an audio track) to your computer or TV. Fine. However, that’s all they’re streaming. You probably don’t even get the subtitle tracks that were produced for the movie you may be watching. And heaven forbid that you might actually want to see deleted scenes or a making-of, or any other type of extra. Not available.
Streaming video, to me, has a definite market in replacing cable television. (That is, if your ISP wasn’t going to cap your bandwidth, preventing you from watching all the streaming video you might want to watch. And capping is happening, and getting more common.) Cable TV provides you with just the movie or TV show, and maybe closed captioning. Streaming can do that just fine. Heck, these days you can even stream some high-def content moderately well, without having to pay extra to the cable company to get the HD channels.
If you want to watch the commentary tracks for a show, however, you’re out of luck with the streaming options available. No commentaries, no deleted scenes, no making-of features; no extras of any kind, in fact. Contrasted with the DVD or Blu-ray disc, if you’re a fan of extra content as I am, streaming sucks.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike streaming, and I do it myself. But for me, it’s for watching current content, for which there are no extras yet anyway, or it’s for content where I just want to see the show, and if I like it, may check out other avenues for any extras that might be associated with it. In other words, I use the streaming kind of like I use my cable subscription, although my cable currently has a lot more content available that I want to watch.
So, having rambled around the point a bit, I’ll re-iterate: I don’t want the future of home video to be streaming, unless they somehow add back in the extras we’ll lose in the current offerings, and ISP bandwidth capping doesn’t continue it’s current trend. And even then, I know I’d be constantly waiting for them to remove content that I might want to watch, for whatever reason studios and media companies do what they do, and then I might not be able to revisit the show I feel like watching. For now, and into the near future that I foresee, I’ll be sticking with my DVD and Blu-ray discs, and loving them for giving me the content I want—with extras.