Digital downloads – like those for Apple TV – will be Blu-ray’s downfall

“With the fall of HD DVD, Blu-ray has assumed the throne as the next format of choice, but its reign will be short-lived,” Erica Ogg blogs for CNET.

“Blu-ray won’t enjoy the same decade-long dominance DVD did after it succeeded VHS. But that’s not because there will be other challenger physical disc formats. Rather, instead of buying discs from Amazon, Best Buy or Wal-Mart, people will begin getting their entertainment in the form of digital downloads in larger volumes,” Ogg reports.

“To the chagrin of disc patent holders, discs are not the only way to consumer high-definition media now… Apple recently upgraded Apple TV to include rentals–standard definition and HD–and a way to bypass the need for a PC to watch films on a living room TV,” Ogg reports.

“The biggest roadblock is of course bandwidth, which causes the process to be long and painful and ultimately not worth it for many. But that will change. Consider, for example, this scenario,” Ogg reports. “Using Fios from Verizon, it’s possible to currently download several episodes of a TV show at approximately 5 megabits per second, or 625 kilobytes per second.”

“Assuming a one-hour high-definition TV show (with commercials) is around 5GB, that requires 1,388,888 kilobytes per second or 1.38 megabytes per second to watch,” Ogg reports. “So Fios is about halfway there about at best, and Comcast’s 100 megabit per second connection, which it promised at CES would be a reality by 2009, could pull it off.”

More in the full article here.


  1. I’m yearning for an alternative to cable. I HATE Time Warner in New York, and there are some shows I like to watch live, so I don’t want to rely on BitTorrent to just download them. I would love to be able to download HD shows from iTunes if they were available.

  2. I have rented a few movies. No complaints regarding speed here. It takes maybe 30 seconds before I can start watching. But usually I am aware I want to watch a movie well before I sit down and watch it, so it’s half done or more before I hit play.

    I rented one to watch in a hotel recently, on my Mac, not Apple TV. It was crappy wifi from the hotel, and it still started playing in 30 seconds or so.

    Written on my iPhone while on the toilet.

  3. As long as the FCC and legislators stay in the pockets of the telecom companies the kind of broadband required for the transfer of HD video content is going to be a dream for most Americans. It is 2008 and I live in Seattle and I cannot get fiber-optic broadband. There are some neighborhoods downtown where cable isn’t even available. The telecoms have a strangle-hold on everything lest a penny might not fall into their pockets. And governments are hopelessly inept on this issue. Maybe the Swedes and the South Koreans will be skipping the blu-ray experience. But many Americans will be buying DVD and BRD movies well into the next decade.

  4. Are they kidding?!? What is the percentage of current US households with broadband fast enough to do this? 1% or less?

    Until virtually everyone has at least 10-20Mbps broadband, plus huge multi-terabyte hard drives to store of all this material on, downloads will never even come close to threatening Blu-ray. We’re talking 5-10 years down the road from now at least.

  5. After the giveaways to the bandwidth providers by Congress for the last decade, what we have is a disgrace. Compare US connectivity to the EU and to Korea, Japan, &c; they are an order of magnitude ahead of the US. Many places in Japan have 100mb speeds as the norm, while the typical US user is lucky to see 2mb. So Blu-ray has nothing to worry about for the next decade.

  6. my apple tv does just fine over an old g type wifi router. I started to watch F4-SS in HD in about 2 minutes after purchase. the disrupted industries should be very afraid. the movie moguls and rental guys are dead center in Apple inc.’s crosshairs.

  7. I’m surprised nobody has thought about the possibility of just downloading a movie while you sleep.

    Yeah, instant gratification for renting an HD movie over the innertubes is out of reach for most people. But not if you rent it a day or so ahead of when you want to watch it.

    Think about it. I see iTunes has the new Coen brothers movie out, so I start to d/l it, knowing I won’t have a chance to sit down for another day or two. By that time, my HD movie is 100% d/led and I don’t sweat my relatively slow connection.

    What I really want someone to work on, however, isn’t movies but TV shows. Let me subscribe to 5-10 of my favorite shows, download them when my connection is normally idle so I can watch them whenever I want and I will be all over it like flies to honey.

  8. What about those of us that want to watch all the extras and commentaries on a 5 disc set like Bladerunner? There is definitely a place for downloads. I have been watching HD movies for years through pay-per-view, but there are still many titles I buy because I need long term access. We are still talking about renting at this point with AppleTV, and like Stevie says about music subscriptions, people like to own, and I think this will be a split market for some time to come.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.