When is Owning No Longer Worth It

We are at an interesting point with technology where more and more media can be accessed any time and any where with a monthly subscription cost. The subscriber does not own any of the media, but they can stream from a library of various media. At one point do consumers no longer really own the media, but instead decide to just use various subscription services to always have access to a multitude of options. There are subscription services that allow you to gain one new item a month, but then for a similar cost you don’t own and just have access. The only issue is the fact that you then only have access as long as you keep paying. So truly at what point does someone say that the subscription is enough.

Owning versus Subscription

Owning media means that you never have to worry about there being a point that you don’t have access because you own it. Even if it is just a digital copy if you make sure to download it then you have a copy that you have access to. Now there is always the possibility that something happens to the copy that you own, which means that you either have to buy a new one or just no longer have it. At the same time you pay once and that is it you can watch it over and over again as many times as you want. At the same time to buy everything that you might want to watch would cost a lot of money.

Subscriptions on the other hand allow you to have access to more than you might be able to buy at any time. Suddenly you have access to so much more than you need at any given time, but it means that at any point there are multiple things that you can watch depending on your mood. It is great to have thousands of titles at your fingertips at the same time you are dependent on the service getting access to the same titles that you want. Even though there is still a lot of choices it is limited by the service.

It is an interesting balance between quantity versus quality and we are getting closer to a point where the quality is pretty dang good. It is also really nice to not have physical items taking up space.


Now the other piece that we have to remember in this discussion is that libraries are evolving in this digital age. The amount of things that public libraries are offering online now really is amazing. Suddenly you do not have to go to the physical library to get an e-book or an audio book. There are so many things that you can get from the library that you do not always need to own. Libraries are expanding beyond just books, but includes a variety of media and games that people can access without having to pay extra.

It will be interesting to see if there comes a point that buying is not the best option and when owning does not mean as much as it usually does.

7 responses to “When is Owning No Longer Worth It

  1. Subscribing is well an good if you want to see a movie you missed in theatres or if you want to watch this one TV show again or for movies which are good enough, but not beloved by you. But if you really like something, subscribing isn’t all that cracked up to be. For example I own a very special edition of Beauty and the Beast which has the movie in three versions, the premiere release, the theatrical release and the extended version. I won’t get that at Netflix. Plus, there is no guarantee that the service I subscribe to actually has the movie or show I like or that, should it have it, said movie or show will stay in the pool of options. So for everything I really adore, I still spring the money.


    • More and more is becoming available through subscription. At the same time some of the special edition discs are not just about the discs but the special features and sometimes even additional little booklets or artwork. I actually enjoy listening to director commentary sometimes. Joss Whedon talking about avengers is a pretty neat experience that I wouldn’t get if I didn’t own.


  2. I used to buy everything; CDs, DVDs Software. It was a mark of ownership to have it in my hand and on my shelf – and lets be honest – there’s always a strange mark of pride when you see a avid DVD collectors floor to ceiling collection. But after a while it just takes up too much space and subscriptions just fix this problem outright.

    I still have special editions, extended editions, platinum editions etc – but to be honest it would have to be something truly extraordinary for me to buy a ‘hard’ copy these days.

    This being said I agree subscriptions services have pitfalls; either you go for something that may not always have what you want all the time, or you go for something that has ‘premium’ options to get exactly what you want – but you pay more for.


    • I use to do that but the space thing is so hard. We continue to buy stuf we already started to collect. We own all the Marvel movies for instance but having Netflix online means I don’t feel a desire to buy those tv shows because I can watch them there.


  3. One thing I’ve liked is the quality shows coming out of the streaming services, and these shows are highly unlikely to “go away” because as the producers, they have the rights to it. So like, we had bought the first couple of seasons of Game of Thrones but then it’s like, we have HBO, we can watch the whole series whenever we want. And now with the Netflix shows, so many of which have been great, but we haven’t bought any of them yet in hard copy. They’re reaching a point that we would have enough to watch with only the shows created by the streaming services that we subscribe to!


  4. I used to make fanvideos, so I have a pretty large collection of DVDs and digital movies. It stopped being worth it to me when I got out of fanvids (which actually was because of cost and accessibility) Subscriptions are really helpful nowadays because I can turn them on and off. I go through long periods where I am not consuming media, so it’s very helpful. I also live in a small space, and there is a point where collecting physical copies of things is just not feasible.


  5. I already hardly buy anything, only when I -can’t- get it anywhere else. Some obscure LGBT+ movies, maybe. Oddly, I’m having to buy The Golden Girls on DVD. Occasionally music to change up my options when I’m in the car, or a reaaaaally special exclusive audiobook, things like that. I would only ever buy something I couldn’t get elsewhere or something I planned to watch/read/etc over and over and over again. Honestly I consume on such a scale that it would be terrifyingly expensive to pay for everything, and when there are libraries and cheap subscription services, it wouldn’t make sense even if I could afford it. (Although, ironically, in the past week two of my favorite rewatch shows got dropped from Netflix AND something’s gone wrong with my library’s access to Hoopla. I may end up spending actual hundreds of dollars in the long run just to get these few select things back, assuming they don’t show up somewhere else before I can afford to buy them.)

    Also, I think this is one reason I don’t game as much as I’d like. I can get cheap Kindle games and occasionally splurge during a Steam sale, but it’s still way more expensive compared to the $0 I spend on TV and books most of the time.


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