Does streaming availability hurt 4K physical disc sales? Disney isn’t making any more catalog physical discs

We haven’t pondered the question in the headline here yet, but it’s a good one to ask considering Disney’s recent rumored decision not to make 4K physical discs for their own catalog or the recently acquired 20th Century Fox.

In essence, my sources said, beyond new release theatrical titles, animated fare from Disney and Pixar, or Star Wars and Marvel-related projects, there were no plans at the studio going forward to release titles on physical 4K Ultra HD—future releases would be 4K Digital only.

Yes, it appears that Disney currently has no plans for more live-action catalog on physical 4K

To clarify, this means only new theatrical releases? What about VOD? What about Mulan, which is going to be at Disney+ and a $30 VOD rental? Will that ever make it to 4K physical disc? It’s not a theatrical title, so based on the quote the answer would seem to be no.

Why is Disney making this decision? Do they think that streaming hurts the 4K physical disc sales? Or is the reverse true? If enough people own all the movies they want in physical format, why would they subscribe to Disney+ streaming?

From our experience owning hundreds (almost 1,000 at one time) DVDs and some amount of Blu-ray, owning the physical discs makes zero difference on the streaming channels we subscribe to today. Sure, our collection has diminished, but it’s just not that convenient going for the discs vs. grabbing the remote and pulling up the title on streaming.

The quality mostly isn’t there for the most part in streaming. Unless it’s 4K streaming, of course.

Rather, I think this move has everything to do with Disney wanting to limit their vault offerings (see: Smaller Theaters Are Frustrated over Disney’s Movie ‘Vault’) and make it more appealing to subscribe — and stay subscribed — to Disney+. Then they can rotate in/out vault titles that they aren’t licensing to competitors. The longer the time period since the last physical disc was made available, the more incentive people might have to resubscribe or stay subscribed longer.

(Retention!)

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