Catechetical DVDs are Dead (But Do They Know It Yet?)

In an effort to expand my son’s cultural horizons I recently exposed him to a great one-two punch of classic science fiction:  the original Star Trek episode “Space Seed” and it’s silver screen sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:

It wasn’t until a day or two after watching the movie that I realized I had hit a significant milestone in media use. Being a fan of classic Star Trek I own all the good movies (II, III, IV, VI, and First Contact) on DVD. And yet, when it came time to watch with my son, it didn’t even occur to me to fish out the disc and pop it into the DVD player. Instead we sat in front of the computer and loaded it on Netflix. I mentioned this on Twitter and found that I was hardly alone in this shift.

This caused me to reflect on the state of catechetical media. I’ve seen a number of big DVD releases from Catholic publishers lately (Fr. Barron’s Catholicism being the most ready example) and I’ve even ordered some for my office’s library. But if DVDs are a dying format we have to ask: what comes next?

The biggest shift in media use has been from physical media to streaming services. Just as I used Netflix to watch Wrath of Khan with my son, more and more people are forgoing physical media in favor of services that give instant access to a large library of titles. This isn’t just true of video; services such as Pandora and Spotify are replacing CD libraries for a lot of young adults. How fast is this shift happening? Let’s put it this way: I can’t remember the last CD player I owned and I don’t expect to buy another DVD player. Ever.

Will catechetical publishers be able to make this shift from discs to streaming? I’m not sure.  I don’t know the details of how media companies get their titles onto Netflix or Hulu or what sort of reimbursement they receive. Suffice to say that, given the size of their market, it will probably be difficult for Catholic catechetical publishers to get their titles onto most of the mainstream services. They may need to look for some smaller streaming providers or develop in-house solutions. This won’t necessarily solve the problem, though, since many people (and parishes) will be reluctant to pay for additional streaming services on top of whatever mainstream provider they are already shelling out their $10 per month to.

I know a few folks in Catholic publishing read my blog and I’d love to hear from them in the comments. Have your companies explored putting video content on a mainstream streaming service? If so, what would be involved? If no, why not?

For catechists and other folks: Would you (or your parish) be willing to pay for a separate streaming service for Catholic content? What about individual services from various Catholic publishers? What features would you look for in a Catholic streaming service?