It's not just Netflix and Max’s prices increasing – Blu-ray and DVD prices have shot up, report reveals

4K Blu-ray action movies splayed out on a kitchen counter
(Image credit: Future)

There are three big problems with even the best streaming services: one, they keep going up in price; two, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll need to subscribe to more than one service to see all the movies and shows you want; and three, movies don't stay on the services forever (and some never make it there). And together those three things mean that more and more of us are returning to physical media and buying our movies and TV box sets on DVD and Blu-Ray. So, naturally, the price of discs is going up.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Blu-Ray and DVD prices are nearly 29% higher than they were this time last year. Prices rocketed in March with a record increase of 14.7%, but while things have calmed down again the trend is still upwards: prices rose yet again in April, the most recent month we have figures for, by 1.9%. And used prices are going up too.

The reason for the price hikes is simple: more of us want discs, but there are fewer outlets selling them. And that means it's increasingly becoming a seller's market.

Why you'd better buy your Blu-Rays now

Consumer Affairs spoke to eBay, who told them that between January and April 2024 there were more than 17,000 searches for DVDs on the service. And while most don't go for the $8,000 that an eBayer paid for the Matthew Barney Cremaster Cycle Films 1-5, the trend is upwards with some titles selling for still-significant sums; the publication notes that the widescreen edition of Assault on Precinct 13 went for $54.30, the second season of South Park went for $33.98 and The Thing From Another World netted $29.99.

And it's not just movies. CDs and VHS tapes are selling for interesting prices too: Beyonce's 4 went for $54.44 on CD and Avril Lavigne's Under My Skin sold for $53.55. And while most VHS tapes aren't selling for big bucks, one seller in November 2023 managed to net $16,000 for their VGA 80+ copy of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – a film that's almost as gruesome as the cut eBay will have taken of the sale.

The reason for the surging prices is scarcity, With the likes of Best Buy no longer selling physical media and more of us looking to own our entertainment rather than rent it, the laws of supply and demand are kicking in – so I'm feeling pretty smug about my own recent purchases of Sopranos and Six Feet Under box sets, music DVDs and audio CDs, none of which cost me very much money. 

I'd love to see a similar study into the price of used Blu-Ray players and other disc-based home entertainment hardware; I suspect that we'll probably see a small but significant rise in the price of players as well as the discs they play. Certainly when I went shopping for a second-hand Blu-Ray player I was surprised by how firm the prices were for even quite old hardware – and our editors have noticed far fewer discounts to the models in our list of the best 4K Blu-ray players over the last few months compared to before.

In addition to increasing average retail prices, people who prefer to own rather than stream entertainment may soon face another pair of problems. If used prices keep on rising, we could end up in a situation like we have with vinyl where used records aren't any cheaper than new ones and in many cases are even more expensive. And the second problem is that while some auction site pirates might try to convince you otherwise, many streaming shows and a growing number of movies aren't being released on physical media at all, or don't get 4K releases when they're available in (inferior) 4K on streaming services.

It's complicated, and while some stores are seeing a chance to stock discs, we may be stuck in a cycle for a while – streaming price rises annoy people and push them back to physical, which causes price rises for physical too. But at least you'll have your collection permanently – and in better quality than streaming delivers for showing off the best TVs.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.