Fox has reported they plan to halt production of any future DVD and Blu-Ray season box sets for the long-running TV show “The Simpsons.” Showrunner Al Jean cites the decline in the show’s DVD sales and rise of digital as the main reasons.
While the rise of digital is convenient, it’s still plagued with some problems, as I’ve written about. There’s also that the extras for the digital episodes might be region-blocked to those outside the US.
As for why discontinue physical discs, some guesses I’m seeing already thrown around include:
Digital episode/season set prices higher than those for physical discs. Glancing at Amazon for season 20 shows it’s currently $13.50 for the DVD set, but $25 for the season (in standard definition) on Amazon’s digital video service. And on top of that, Amazon doesn’t have all of the seasons available digitally, but does have all of the DVD sets. Of course, with no more physical media releases, the lack of digital versions will probably soon change. Prices for the above in HD are all higher, of course…as if HD should still be some sort of “special snowflake” demanding higher pricing, but that’s another argument…
- The decline in the show’s popularity and being a TV staple. The most popular episodes (from the 90s) are all already on DVDs, Blu-Rays, and air heavily on TV. All that adds up to the recent seasons being less appealing (and lower selling) as home video releases.
- The decline in physical media’s popularity in general, as Al Jean noted.
For whatever reason, this marks a pretty big landmark moment in home video, when a show as big as “The Simpsons” can go digital-only. Whether it’s really “the beginning of the end” for DVDs and Blu-Rays remains to be seen, as there’s still a lot of reasons for physical media to stick around/issues digital video has to sort out.