It’s challenging to envision stepping into a Best Buy store without encountering the once-prominent array of movies and music collections that used to occupy the central area of most of their locations.
During the late ’90s to the early 2010s, a visit to Best Buy would invariably welcome you with a carefully curated selection of the latest movie releases and CD albums right at the entrance. Over the years, these sections gradually shrank, reducing to just a few aisles.
Discontinuation of Physical Media and the Shift in Media Consumption
The discontinuation of physical media by Best Buy signals the end of an era where you could leisurely browse through DVDs and Blu-rays, perhaps one of the last remaining enjoyable places for such an experience. This is particularly sentimental for me, as I have fond memories of working there during my college years.
As per sources, Best Buy won’t even offer physical movies for sale online, including sought-after 4K titles and special-edition steelbooks that collectors eagerly anticipate. The decline of DVDs may begin as early as the first quarter of next year.
Best Buy’s media department used to occupy the largest space in their stores, but the economic landscape has shifted.
Nowadays, you’ll notice more extensive computer and smartphone departments, as these have become the primary means through which people access media. While physical video games are still available, their future may be uncertain as companies like Sony and Microsoft focus on digital distribution. Best Buy ceased selling music CDs in 2018.
Visiting Best Buy was akin to stepping into a library where you could browse through and even savor the tactile experience of picking up, holding, and perusing movie cases. This sensation cannot be replicated by merely pressing the arrow keys on your remote while navigating the somewhat confining interface of a streaming service menu.
These stores remained one of the last comfortable places where you could explore physical movies, especially after the decline and closure of Blockbuster movie rental stores over the past decade.
Unique Media Experience and Physical Media Ownership
Best Buy stood out due to its dedicated staff members specifically assigned to the media department, which encompassed DVDs, Blu-rays, music CDs, and video games.
Typically, you’d have to visit a place like Sam Goody or Suncoast to receive that kind of assistance, and such specialized stores were becoming increasingly scarce. While I didn’t possess all-encompassing knowledge, I recall a memorable instance when I assisted the late rapper Biz Markie in locating a go-go music album that I had never encountered before.
Nevertheless, what set media department employees apart was their genuine commitment to maintaining well-organized shelves, their expertise, and their dedication to helping customers find what they were seeking.
Certainly, there are other options like Walmart, which, with a 45 percent market share, reigns as the largest retail vendor of physical media. However, the experience pales in comparison. The movie selection doesn’t measure up.
Best Buy boasts high-quality steelbooks and an overall impressive collection of films, while Walmart often seems to offer a limited selection of $2 DVDs featuring titles like “The Hot Chick.” Amazon, of course, remains a viable alternative, but shopping online lacks the enchantment of physically browsing through movies.
The end of Best Buy’s offerings is not a promising trend if you’re invested in owning the stuff you watch. Disney is also cutting back on physical media, stopping shipments to Australia and New Zealand as it aims to conjure up more Disney Plus and Hulu subscriptions.
Slowly, the consumption of movies, and even games, is becoming an all-digital affair, where even if you bought a title, you don’t technically own it. I have regrets about selling off my modest but sizable DVD collection, and it’s going to be harder now more than ever to roll back and rebuild a library.
The discontinuation of physical media, exemplified by Best Buy’s shift and declining availability, marks the end of an era where in-store movie and music discovery thrived. This trend, driven by economic changes and digital preferences, diminishes the tangible experience and personal ownership of content, raising concerns about the ability to rebuild cherished media libraries.