This article appeared in the January 31, 2024 issue of the Lake Geneva News, page C7.

I’m 26 years old, and just bought my first DVD player. Here’s why it’s time to switch back to physical media formats.

Written by Ellen Ward-Packard, Community Engagement Librarian at Lake Geneva Public Library.

With the news of Best Buy ending sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs and Netflix ending its DVD-by-mail service in favor of a focus on streaming, it may seem that we are at the end of the physical media era.

Streaming services off vast catalogs of content, available instantly and in high quality. An yet in the year 2024, I, a person with a laptop, smartphone, and no real memories of the 90s, bought a DVD player. And you know what? I’m not going back!

In the heyday of streaming services, for a low base price, a consumer could have access to most, if not all, of the television and films they could want. Less competition, lower content costs, and the absence of platform-exclusive content meant that a subscriber could be quite happy with a single streaming service. In 2024, with the rise in platform-exclusive content and a proliferation of streaming services, you may need 2-10 individual subscriptions to access the content you want, each costing anywhere from $5 to $100 per month. In August of 2023, the Financial Times estimated that a bundle of the top six streaming services would cost users $87/month, assuming that a subscriber is paying for ad-free versions of the services.

Which brings us to ads: Netflix announced at the start of the year that it is eliminating its lowest-cost ad-free subscription. Amazon’s Prime Video began charging for an ad-free subscription on January 20th. Disney, Hulu, Peacock, Max, and other streaming services already require subscribers to pay extra for ad-free streaming.

In this environment, I invite you back to the original subscription service: the public library. Depending on how you prefer to think of it, the library is free and/or a service that your tax dollars have already paid for, and it offers perhaps the best alternative to the streaming madness. We have your shows. We have your movies. We have the Oscar nominees. We have Barbie and Oppenheimer, and we have DVD players that you can take home. If w do not have the DVD you want, you can ask us to buy it, and, unlike streaming giants, we probably will!

The benefits of physical media are many, but here are two that feel especially important this year.

  1. Physical media cannot be removed or erased by the owning platform. In fact, most media that you can “purchase” digitally is not meaningfully owned by you–it is licensed to you for limited, conditional use. If you subscribe to a catalog of content through a streaming service, you rely on that streaming service to maintain, store, and make that content available to you. And with rising content costs, your provider may choose to remove your favorite content with no notice.
  2. If you use a library, you do not need to worry about the physical space required to store discs. My colleague Wendy calls the library the “community’s living room;” it’s also the community’s storage closet.

With 4,500 DVDs available at the Lake Geneva Public Library, and over 100,000 more easily accessible through the Prairie Lakes Library System [SHARE Consortium], you can enjoy nearly unlimed video content without the cost or drawback of streaming, and without the need to store hundreds of discs in your own home.

So why not break up with the streaming services? You’ve probably already got a library “subscription,” and our DVD collection is here for the long haul.

To register for a library card or to place a hold on one of the thousands of items available through the library system, visit [or visit].

Did you know libraries also offer: