It’s hard to imagine walking into a Best Buy with no library of movies and music that once dominated the center of most stores. If you walked into Best Buy in the late ’90s to early 2010s, you were always greeted by a curated selection of the latest releases of movies and CD albums right at the entrance. The sections shrunk down over the years into just a few aisles, and now The Digital Bits reports the company is about to remove physical media altogether, and Best Buy later confirmed the report to Variety.
No more physical media means Best Buy will stop carrying DVDs and Blu-rays, bringing an end to maybe the last enjoyable place you could go to browse around, and a place I would always have nostalgia for after working there in my college years. According to the sources, Best Buy won’t even sell physical movies online, including 4K titles and special-edition steelbooks that collectors look forward to. The DVD end times could start next year as early as Q1. The Verge reached out to Best Buy for comment, but we did not receive a response at time of publication.
Best Buy’s media department used to have the largest footprint in every store, but the economics have changed. Now, you see larger computer and smartphone departments, which are now the primary ways people consume media. There are still physical video games, but that might not even last as companies like Sony and Microsoft evolve systems to focus on digital distribution. Best Buy stopped selling music CDs in 2018.
Like walking into a library to skim through and smell some books, Best Buy was a place you could pick up, hold, and read movie cases — a feeling that cannot be satiated by pressing the arrow keys on your remote as you navigate the state of captivity that is a streaming service menu. The stores were one of the only comfortable places left to go to explore physical movies after Blockbuster movie rental stores started closing for good in the past decade.
Best Buy was unique in that it had dedicated personnel who were designated for media, which included DVDs, Blu-rays, music CDs, and video games. You’d normally have to go to a Sam Goody or Suncoast for that kind of help, and those felt fewer and further in between. I didn’t know everything — I once helped rapper Biz Markie (rest in peace) find a go-go music album that I had never heard of. However, I found media department workers actually cared about properly organizing shelves, were knowledgeable, and really helped customers find what they were looking for.
Sure, there are other stores like Walmart, which, at 45 percent market share, is the largest retail seller of physical media, but the experience is not as good. The movies are not as good. Best Buy has high-quality steelbooks and a generally solid library of films to buy, Walmart always seems like it just has a basket of $2 DVDs of The Hot Chick. Amazon will also continue to be a good alternative, but going online takes away the magic of tangible movie shopping.
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.