May 1, 2013 at 3:45 PM ET
Next year, Blu-ray players will be outnumbered by Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes, according to research firm The NPD Group. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube are on the rise, while discs themselves are losing ground.
Nearly half of TVs are connected in some way to the Internet, most often by a streaming device like Roku, Apple TV or Boxee. Game consoles are the second most popular way to get your TV online, followed by connected Blu-ray players and then TVs with Internet capability built in.
Another study, from The Diffusion Group, found that smart TVs are gaining ground, going from 12 percent of the TV population to 25 percent over the last year.
According to NPD's study, 40 percent of these connected TVs (about 18-20 percent of all TVs) are being used to watch Netflix streamed movies. About half that amount watch YouTube regularly, and half again watch Hulu in some form or another. TDG showed that game console users spend about a quarter of their time watching videos — not, as one might expect, playing games.
Meanwhile, the number of streaming devices should overtake that of Blu-ray players over the next year, after which the decline of disc-based media for shows and movies seems inevitable. Of course, people will still want to buy DVDs for collected seasons of shows or special editions of movies, but it's clear that streaming is going to make up the greater part of TV-watching in the near future.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.