5 Reasons Not to Replace Everything With Streaming

The world is going digital — that much is clear. Many of us have turned to digital and streaming services as our primary source of entertainment. We binge-watch shows on Netflix and stream playlists on Spotify. While the tide is definitely shifting toward streaming and digital media, physical media isn’t dead yet. Paper book sales are staging a comeback years after the first ebook came to market. Music aficionados are still buying albums on vinyl, a medium whose popularity peaked decades ago. This is all for good reason: Physical media still has its place in the modern world. There are plenty of reasons not to replace all of your media needs with streaming and digital versions. Here are a few.

1. Sometimes you’re offline

the interior of an airplane

There might be no Wi-Fi on this flight | iStock.com

The most obvious reason not to do away with all the physical media in your life is you’re not always online to enjoy streamed content. Sometimes you’re in the car and you don’t want to blow through your phone’s data cap. Sometimes you’re on a plane the airline hasn’t upgraded with Wi-Fi yet. As connected as we are, we still encounter the occasional internet dead zone or roadblock.

On the plus side, some streaming services have begun allowing users to download shows and songs to enjoy offline. But in this imperfect world of ours, we don’t always have time to prepare for when we’ll need offline content. Say your power goes out, or — surprise! — the cable company needs to work on your neighborhood’s wires all afternoon. The best plan is to play it safe and keep some physical media around.

2. Beloved objects

bookshelves filled with books

Books on a shelf may mean more to you than ebooks | iStock.com

Physical media can be much more meaningful than the paper and plastic it’s made from. Some books, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays have sentimental value. Maybe your grandma gave you your set of Harry Potter hardbacks and you think of her every time you see them. Or perhaps you have a tradition of watching your old Die Hard DVD every Christmas. Physical media can acquire personal meaning in a way digital media can’t. You don’t want to toss out your prized possessions, do you? Do yourself a favor and keep those precious items around.

3. Special features

Brad Pitt in Fight Club

The Fight Club Blu-ray has a great set of special features | Fox

As convenient as Netflix and Hulu are, they don’t have the kinds of special features you’ll find in physical copies of movies and TV shows. Film buffs love watching deleted scenes and listening to the director’s commentary tracks on their favorite movies. When done with care, these extra documents can enrich the viewing experience, making fans appreciate the work that went into the making of their favorite works. Unfortunately, these kinds of features tend to be unique to physical media.

4. Physical objects look good on a shelf

Michael Thomassen and the world's largest video game collection.

The world’s largest video game collection | Guinness World Records

Let’s face it, you have to decorate your living space with something. What better way to show off your impeccable taste than to have a killer collection of books, games, movies, or albums sitting on your shelves for all to see? Streaming media is great for many things, but you can’t decorate your home with your Netflix queue. So keep those physical objects around.

5. Compression

'The Martian' on UHD Blu-ray

The Martian looks and sounds even better on Blu-ray | 20th Century Fox

When it comes to audio and video quality, streaming just isn’t up to snuff compared to physical media. Streamed media is compressed so it doesn’t gobble up unfathomable amounts of data every time you want to watch an episode of The Walking Dead or listen to the new Beyoncé single. If you’ve poured a small fortune into your video or audio setup, there’s a good chance you’ll notice the downgrade in quality.