Is COVID-19 Accelerating The Death Of Physical Media?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Much like Dracula across Transylvania’s countryside, COVID-19 is ravaging the world right now. The long-lasting effects of the disease are very unknown right now. However, they could completely change the way life is lived across the globe. I want to look at a very real possibility going on right now. The possibility that the biggest entertainment victim could be physical media as we know it today. It was already on the ropes against digital and I think the pandemic is the knockout punch to finally put it down.


GameStop has a razor-thin profit margin. So do many other similar businesses that deal in entertainment and have all been on life support lately. Suddenly closing for unknown periods of time is definitely not going to help.

There’s a real possibility that those type of stores close down and make it a lot more difficult to find what you want in physical form. Sure, there will still be big box places like Walmart, but they only carry the big triple-A games and more blockbuster-type movies. The niche stuff harder to find there. But services like Amazon Prime Video? Yeah, it’s as easy as a quick search.

The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” will become a very real reality when it comes to physical media. When they just outright don’t see the places to buy blu-ray and video games, the idea of physical stuff could fade. Mindshare is super important and the coronavirus could only make it worse.

The theaters being closed and making movies available early on demand also gives streaming a huge advantage over physical media. You can watch some of the bigger movies that are supposed to be currently in theaters for the price of owning a blu-ray, without leaving your couch. I don’t think it’s going to kill the theatrical experience if this happens more often but it’ll definitely hurt sales of stuff on disc.

I’m aware Amazon is an easy option to get the physical device delivered and it’s not going anywhere but let’s be honest, most people outside collectors aren’t going to order it and wait for days for it to be delivered when on the same site they can just instantly purchase the same item to consume digitally.

Staying Home

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Most everywhere people are just outright staying home. Now millennials usually do stream anyway and they get the concept…but you know who’s really discovering the ease of it? Older generations. My parents are asking me for good shows to stream and I wasn’t entirely sure they even had Netflix until now.

The more people stay home and notice how convenient streaming is by comparison, the more they will lean into it. Why go out and try and find a disc of a movie you like when you can just pop it right on your tv? Young people have figured this out a while ago but now the older folks are catching on as well and that can’t bode well for physical media.

Then there’s the issue of how soon people will start getting out and about again. Will it be soon? I have no way of knowing and neither does anyone else. Even after the quarantines end I think people will be hesitant to go to busy places immediately. Staying home will become more normalized to most people and the ripple affects will be felt in more ways then we can predict.

Proliferation of Services

Ok. That’s a fancy way of saying lots of choices. I currently use Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Game Pass to keep me occupied. All my movies and games I use at this time are from some kind of a service like this. That plethora of choice means people can easily just find almost anything they want. They can also instantly access it at no additional cost to whatever service they already pay for.

There are even niche services like Shudder for horror fans or Criterion Collection for your smug friend that calls movies films (they also have Godzilla films though, take that, cinema snobs!) I’ve personally found movies I could never find on DVD or Blu-ray for years and got them easily. There’s literally something for everyone and it’s easy to access and usually cheaper than getting that obscure movie on disc from an auction site.


So with everyone stuck home already experiencing the future and many of the stores at economic risk of closing and the vast amount of choice at our fingertips, how much of a chance do discs really have against the pandemic? My opinion is that outside of collectors, they are dead in the water.

Let us know if you still like having actual media in your hands or are prepared for an all-digital future in the comments below.

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Night Terror Banner   GenreVerse Have you checked out LRM Online’s official podcast feed yet The Genreverse Podcast Network? This includes our premiere podcast The Daily CoGBreaking Geek Radio: The Podcast, GeekScholars Movie News, Nerd Flix & Chill, Marvel Multiverse Mondays, Anime-Versal Review Podcast, and our Star Wars dedicated podcast The Cantina. Check it out by listening below. It's also available on all your favorite podcast apps! Subscribe on: Apple PodcastsSpotify |  SoundCloud | Stitcher | Google Play

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