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Disney Breaks Free: Sony Takes Charge of Blu-Ray, DVD Business

Disney shifts from physical media, partners with Sony. Trend reflects broader industry changes amid streaming dominance.

Sony Entertainment

Disney has made a bold decision to leave the physical media industry, breaking with its long-standing involvement in home entertainment formats. With this shift, Disney’s library titles as well as new releases will be distributed and marketed by Sony Entertainment thanks to a licensing arrangement. This choice was made in the midst of shifting media and consumer consumption trends.

Disney’s Departure from Physical Media Industry

In the larger picture, the physical media business is declining, as seen by recent statements made by major stakeholders in the sector. Disney is now implementing a licensed model with Sony, Best Buy is ending the in-store selling of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, and Netflix has announced its plan to leave the DVD-by-mail business. In 2020, Warner Bros. Discovery and Universal had previously partnered on a joint venture named Studio Distribution Services with the goal of managing their DVD and Blu-ray businesses’ production, sales, marketing, and distribution together. Disney’s decision to follow suit shows how much the industry has realized that, given the present environment, joint approaches might be more practical.

Disney’s Legacy: Adapting to Home Entertainment

This move is significant for Disney, which is renowned for its ability to adjust to emerging trends in home entertainment. The business released “Mary Poppins” on VHS in 1980, demonstrating their early adoption of the format. Disney also had a significant impact on the format war that took place between Toshiba’s HD DVD and Sony’s Blu-ray, which helped to propel Blu-ray to success in the middle of the 2000s. Another noteworthy accomplishment was the idea of the “Disney Vault,” a marketing tactic that involved the home video release of certain library items for a limited period of time.

Physical media has been challenged by the streaming era, as major streaming services have taken the lead in content consumption. But according to reports, streaming services’ calculated moves—like dropping some library items and adding advertising—may spark a renewed interest in traditional forms. This renaissance may be led by customers who appreciate having continuous access to particular material.

Filmmakers have also contributed to the conversation. The director of “Oppenheimer,” Chris Nolan, has emphasized the value of physical media and asked fans to buy Blu-ray versions. This attraction speaks to a perspective shared by some consumers who value the tangible quality of physical material and its possible longevity in contrast to streaming platforms’ dynamic library changes.

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