In the past few years, digital downloads have revolutionised the media market. Pretty much everything that can be bought on a disc can now also be purchased over the internet. Where once you had to go to the shop and hope they hadn’t sold out of the latest release, you can now go online to buy music, films and computer games and play them immediately without even getting your shoes on. But is this really the best way to buy, or are there still advantages to going out to buy that content on a physical disc?
Music was the first media to take off in download form. The success of the iPod and other MP3 players saw to that. They made it possible to keep a large music collection on a portable device that was smaller than any Walkman and didn’t require a single disc to be fed into it. For most people, there is now little reason to buy a CD. The majority of users today listen to their music with an MP3 player and store it on their computer. What’s more, any CDs they do buy get immediately ripped into MP3 tracks anyway. Downloads are simply a cheaper, quicker and easier way to get those tracks.
TV and Film
TV programmes and films have enjoyed success in both downloads and live streaming. Even the video rental industry has entered the virtual sphere, with streams and downloads that will only work for a given amount of time. But this has not happened as drastically as it has with music. The key reason is probably that sitting on your sofa looking at your full-size TV offers a better viewing experience than your computer. For that, you need to use your DVD player. Watching films online is great if you are just curious to see a film and want to do so cheaply, but for a film you really want to enjoy DVDs are still king.
Computer games have not been as quick to take off in download form as music. Nonetheless, buying games in this way has become immensely popular, with a range of Mac and PC games available to download from a number of different suppliers. Obviously, you still need a disc for any console games you wish to buy, but for playing on your computer, downloads offer a lot of advantages. They are often cheaper, with many suppliers holding regular sales offering real bargains. You can often install them on multiple computers more easily and you don’t need to insert the disc every time you want to play. There is, however, a thriving second-hand market for physical games, which can also be a source of some fantastic bargains. This alone is a good reason not to give up on discs altogether.
In many people’s eyes, downloads are the future and discs are becoming obsolete. In some areas such as music, that certainly looks like the case. But in others this isn’t so clear-cut. Downloads may offer many advantages for computer games, but discs can mean pre-owned bargains. And when it comes to films and TV programmes, DVDs remain on top.