Issue of the day: Is the end really nigh for CDs and DVDs?

FEELING wistful for the little frisson of the needle dropping on the vinyl morphed into a nostalgia for the humble clunking of the cassette tape and now it’s looking like the end of days really is nigh for CDs and DVDs – or is it?

What’s happening?

It’s not exactly a huge surprise amid the rise of streaming, but Tesco has confirmed that it is phasing out DVDs and CDs from its stores, suggesting the end of days certainly would appear to be nigh for both of the formats that played such a major role in our lives for so long.


What did Tesco say?

That it was responding to weakening customer demand. The retail giant has been removing the products from its stores over the past few weeks, replacing them with higher demand categories such as homeware. A Tesco spokesperson said: “As more customers move towards digital entertainment, over the last month we have begun to phase out some products in our entertainment range, focusing instead on ranges where we see the highest demand from customers such as homeware and outdoor products.”


What’s the situation in other stores?

Rival chain Sainsbury’s removed CDs and DVDs from its stores last year, saying its “customers increasingly go online for entertainment” and that they were phasing out the products to allow extra space for “food and popular products like clothing and homewares”.


The CD was king?

Interestingly enough, it was the inventor of the cassette, Dutch engineer Lou Ottens, who helped develop the CD for Philips in a joint effort with Sony back in 1982. Billions of CDs have sold since.


Sales dipped?

Actually, CD sales did dip for around 17 years, due to the introduction of digital downloads and then streaming services, but the drop-off reduced from 27 per cent annually between 2018 to 2020 to 12% last year, with sales figures boosted by CD releases from Ed Sheeran, ABBA and Adele – suggesting a potential rebirth in popularity with fans committed to the format and physically ‘owning’ music. In all in the UK, more than 14 million CDs purchased in 2021 so the market is still there.



Around 300 million DVDs sold worldwide last year, down from an average of 2 billion every year between 2005 and 2009.


Coming around again?

What goes out, returns again and as far as vinyl and cassettes go, their sales are surging. Around 190,000 tapes were purchased last year in the UK, up by 20% on 2020 and the highest amount since 2003.


As for the CD?

It celebrates its 40th anniversary later this year as October 1, 1982, marked the release of the first commercial compact disc, Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” in Japan. In 1985 the first CD single – Dire Straits “Brothers In Arms” – which was released for promotional purposes in Germany. 


And the DVD?

In 1997, Hollywood released “Twister” and “Mars Attacks!” as the first movies on the format.

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