A blank DVD appears to the left of a faded buffering symbol with a play button in the middle of the symbol. Both the DVD and symbol appear on a bright red background

Streaming vs. the Material Media Comeback

As a Seinfeld fan, I’m lucky that the entire show is available to watch on Netflix. An episode here, an episode there. I’m free to pick and choose whichever I want without having the luck of the draw coming on late night cable. But what if that’s the only show I’m interested in watching on Netflix? Do I really want to pay $12+ a month for one show on top of my cable fees? For anywhere between $40 and $70 I can buy a box set of the entire show and I get to have the exact same thing only with a significantly lower cost to have the show forever.

The logos for Apple TV+, HBO MAX, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Prime video appear in rectangles respective to their logo's colors. The logos overlap and are titled to the left.

A lot of consumers are facing a similar battle between streaming and material media. The rise of streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, MAX, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, and Peacock means consumers are left paying subscription after subscription to seek out their favorite shows. Prior to this booming business system, all you needed was cable or satellite and everything came to you. One benefit of streaming is that viewers have access to a plethora of favorite shows that no longer air on TV, but this privilege comes with a cost. That is, if a show gets removed from a streaming platform and doesn’t appear on another, it’s gone again forever. Even if a show doesn’t disappear entirely, classic shows like Friends, Seinfeld, The Office, and Parks and Recreation risk hopping from platform to platform, and once again consumers rack up streaming fees to maintain access. So, what’s the solution here?

To tackle continuous streaming fees, consumers are looking towards older material media like DVDs, Blu-ray, and even VHS tapes. For a fraction of the cost, viewers have their favorite shows and movies at their fingertips and are able to enjoy them for years to come. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently came out with an article supporting just that. Emma Roth, tech writer for The Verge, says during an interview for this article, “I subscribed to so many streaming services and a lot of it is taking up a lot of my data on my monthly limit for my [internet service provider]. And I was like, ‘You know what? Let me go buy DVDs instead.'” She also talks about how Goodwill is an excellent place to thrift DVDs, meaning that this media backtracking is also environmentally friendly. With DVDs, viewers also avoid “decision fatigue” and hours of scrolling when trying to find a new TV show or movie to enjoy. Sometimes “infinite” content has its limits.

Shelves of DVDs appear in a public library. the shelves are bookended by mahogany, wooden panels. A sign on the end of a shelf reads "MOVIES, DVDS & BLU RAY"

And if spending a few dollars on DVDs is still too much for your budget, look no further than your local library! More and more libraries are adding DVDs, VHS tapes, and even educational streaming platforms like Kanopy to their services. Here at the AU Library, we have thousands of titles (movies and TV) available for borrowing on DVD and access to Kanopy – all completely free to the AU community! If you don’t have a DVD player of your own, you can check one out too or use one of the many screening rooms in the library to watch any of your timeless favorites. You can also check out AU’s Music Library for access to thousands of CDs and music databases if Spotify, Apple Music, or Pandora is crowding your budget as well.

Even though it may seem like streaming is the future of TV and cinema, more consumers seem to be opting for nostalgic media forms like DVDs to save money and make sure they don’t lose access to their all time favorites. It’s hard to say if material media will ever dominate these digital platforms once and for all, but for now, they seem to be a beneficial alternative.

Posted in Music Library, Resources, Streaming Video.