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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  • DrKlahn - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    Yeah streaming 4K has a ton more compression artifacts vs UHD disc. Not to mention compressed audio vs. Lossless Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.

    Granted on your average viewer TV viewer listening to the built in speakers isn't likely to care. But if you have the setup to appreciate it, disc blows streaming out of the water.
  • mode_13h - Saturday, February 23, 2019 - link

    People who value fidelity are still on blu-ray and UHD. Especially in large parts of the US and elsewhere that lack the highest speed internet access.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    That's a surprise for me as well. I switched my mom from DVD to Bluray once she bought herself a new 37" 1080p LCD TV. The price difference is mostly a joke: 2 to 5€ for most of her shows and movies often feel like a steal with the frequent Amazon "x for y money" things where a Blu Ray ends up costing maybe 5 or 6€. Only things expensive are new releases and 4k. Once she watched her first Blu Ray she was hooked. And there aren't a lot of action scenes for her (mostly crime shows from Britain and Skandinavian countries).

    Many people have too small TVs for the distant they watch at. When I tell them about the ideal way to watch it, they look at me like I'm crazy and repeat the bullshit all parents tell their children (don't be so close to the TV, your eyes will get damaged).
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    I think the only surprise in this announcement is the fact that it has taken this long for optical discs to lose relevance. Then again, I am one of those people that is still purchasing video on DVDs because I've been staging to jump from DVD to streaming only, skipping Blu-ray in the process.
  • Inteli - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    They're not completely irrelevant, just mostly. In terms of objective quality, 1080p Blu-ray has a higher bit-rate than Netflix's UHD service. Bit rate isn't everything, it depends on the codec, etc, but what I can find says Netflix UHD is about 15 Mbps, and my smallest movie-length Blu-ray sits at 14 Mbps on average (and it's half the size of my next smallest). Sampling a couple of movies, a Blu-ray's bit rate sits at about 30-35 Mbps (5 Mbps of that is audio), and a UHD disc sits at about twice that (65-70 Mbps, with the same 5 Mbps for audio).

    Compression algorithms might be able to do a lot, but a UHD Blu-ray still streams nearly 5 times as much data as Netflix.
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    True enough. However, I'm not sure if the quality advantage will be perpetually tilted in favor of optical media and I don't think a majority subset of video consumers currently find the quality difference significant enough to justify keeping optical discs as a format alive. Add the security mechanisms and the problems those mechanisms introduce into the mix and Blu-ray looks just a bit less appealing than streaming. I read a lot of "common people" news and I see nowhere that is advocating keeping optical discs. Blu-ray and DVD collections are frequently featured on "if you want to save money never buy X, Y, or Z" articles. The general public is being nudged toward streaming as a valid alternative.
  • Korguz - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    ive never had any issues playing any of the bluerays i have, in standalone players, or via power dvd
  • PeachNCream - Friday, February 22, 2019 - link

    The fact that you know where some of these problems are happening by citing specific pain points that I didn't mention means you're aware of the issues even if you haven't personally experienced them.
  • Korguz - Saturday, February 23, 2019 - link

    Huh?? i wasnt referring to your post... and um.. where else would one play bluerays ?? the only ones i know of, are standalone players, on a computer, or a console.. is there another way to play bluerays or dvds that i dont know of ???
  • Inteli - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    I agree. Consumer formats are largely a game of compromise between quality and convenience. John Doe won't spend $30 for the latest Marvel movie on UHD when he can stream it off Netflix (or I guess Disney's streaming service) with the same fee he already pays to watch his favorite TV show. He won't notice a difference, since he's probably listening through TV speakers (or worse, his phone's speaker) and watching on the biggest TV he could afford instead of the nicest TV he could afford.

    I think we're still a few years (at least) from streaming catching up with Blu-ray, but I don't doubt it'll happen. I expect (hope) movies to end up taking the route music has, where the general public buys or streams lower-quality files, but enthusiasts have the option of buying high-quality files at a premium (preferably without DRM).

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