Surprisingly for the electronics titan, Samsung has not released any new Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray players for the US market since 2017. And now in 2019 it looks like their development of Blu-ray players has ceased entirely, as the company recently confirmed that it has no plans to release any new Blu-ray players.

Sales of movies on physical media have been on the decline for years now as streaming services have been gaining market share. To make the matters particularly worrying, sales of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are considerably behind sales of Blu-ray and DVD movies. In fact, despite being technologically obsolete, DVD is still the most popular format, according to a report from MediaPlayNews that cites NPD VideoScan. On the week ended on February 9, DVD commanded 55.2% of unit sales, Blu-ray captured 39.8%, whereas Ultra HD Blu-ray only had a 5% unit share. Whether this is entirely consumer-driven however is up for debate; some believe that the lion’s share of DVDs are being purchased by disc rental services.

Presumably because of low popularity of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs among consumers, Samsung has backed off plans to release any new Blu-ray players. Specifically, the company has confirmed that they don't have any plans to launch new UHD BD players in the US; however they have not elaborated on other markets. Keeping in mind that the US is the largest market for consumer electronics, canning the product category here means that it would be quite surprising to see it maintained in other markets.

Apart from Samsung, Oppo also recently pulled the plug on its Blu-ray players as well. Furthermore, in an odd move from the studios, several high-profile movies including The FavouriteStan & Ollie, and Holmes And Watson, will not be released on UHD media.

Meanwhile, though Samsung is set to bow out of the market for Blu-ray players, there are a number of other makers that will continue to offer players, including Sony, and Panasonic. Both companies introduced their new decks back at CES 2019, so it does not look like they will be cancelling this product category any time soon. In the meantime, market researchers predict that shipments of Blu-ray players will decline from 72.1 million units in 2017 to 68.0 million units in 2023.

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Source: Forbes, SlashGear

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  • thestryker - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    I found out that netflix's atmos is streamed through a modified ac3 codec so it's still dvd quality audio, but with atmos modifiers. Atmos is nice, but I'll take a real bitrate DTS over ac3 atmos.
  • Stochastic - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    I can't say I'm surprised. With the AV1 codec on the horizon, the quality of streaming will continue to improve. The Wi-Fi 6 standard will also reduce congestion for people living in dense cities or apartment complexes, which should reduce buffering issues.
  • Santoval - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    The Ultra HD Blu-ray tech was developed around the same time that 4K streaming emerged, so it is hardly surprising that these devices don't sell. Due to the prevalence of streaming at up to 1080p along with the emergence of 4K TV sets these Ultra HD Blu-ray players and disks should actually be more relevant than vanilla Blu-rays.

    However Netflix and co just *had* to scale up to 4K as well, didn't they? While Netflix's 4K is much poorer than 4K Blu-rays, and 1080p streaming is also poorer than vanilla Blu-rays, nothing beats the convenience of streaming and saying "good riddance" to physical disks. 68 million Blu-ray players in 2023? These guys are clearly over-optimistic.
  • StrangerGuy - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    Convenience beats quality almost every time? Who knew.
    Also, to me and many others discs are just yet more clutter in our homes to deal with.
  • CheapSushi - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    I kinda miss the 80s/90s cyberpunk aesthetic/view where discs were still very prevalent. I think the discs are still useful for backup systems. It seems better value but less convenient than tape for homelabbers and prosumer. I wish multi-disc swappers in 5.25" size existed like they did for CD.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    Don't back anything up to discs, unless you repeat the process every few years or have specifically tuned discs for long live. A lot of CDs and DVDs are becoming unreadable even when kept in perfect condition. Disc rot and other things.
  • LordConrad - Thursday, February 21, 2019 - link

    It's the dyes. Disc makers use faster reacting dyes because people want to burn discs faster, but faster dyes also degrade faster. If you're using discs for backup, stick with M-Discs. They are designed to have an extremely long life.
  • mode_13h - Saturday, February 23, 2019 - link

    Yeah, I still remember that opening scene of The Matrix.
  • stangflyer - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    I have a 75 inch Sony 940E TV. Streaming is pretty bad compared to disc and I have a really good internet connection. Also, the sound is much better on disc. Might a well have a soundbar instead of a 7.2.4 Atmos system.
  • stangflyer - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    It is kind of like the Super Audio and DVD Audio phase in music. Then MP3 players came out and everyone wanted to put 1000 songs on a 4 gig IPOD. Crappy bit rate. I will take my SA and DVD A discs any day but then again I do not listen to much new music. It sounds crappy at any bit rate!

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