(written from a Production point of view)
Blu-ray Disc (BD or Blu-ray) is a digital high-definition (HD) home video entertainment format on the standard 120mm optical discs typically offering 2K HD 1080p resolution digital video, which was developed by a consortium that included, among others, Sony and Philips. Launched in 2006, it competed briefly, but fiercely, in a format war from 2006 to 2008 with HD DVD from competitor Toshiba before becoming the standardized high-definition home entertainment format.
Event though far superior in intrinsic quality to the standard-definition (SD) DVD format, also a Sony/Philips product somewhat ironically, the Blu-ray Disc was meant to replace (as was the HD DVD for that matter), the format did not quite achieve the hoped-for commercial success its predecessor had enjoyed in the prior two decades, it becoming a near universal standard – and home presence – in the process. There was a variety of reasons for this. In the wake of the format war, customers were wary and reluctant to replace their DVD collections and their home media format players with Blu-ray ones initially set at a much higher price-point, something they themselves refer to as "double-dipping" – and which in the case of Star Trek held especially true for those who had already invested in the expensive 2007 TOS-R Season 1 HD DVD release and its equally expensive associated player, the remastered HD portion of the release not playable afterwards on Blu-ray players with the Star Trek release thereby essentially becoming "dumpster fodder".  The Star Trek franchise had bet on the wrong horse when it decided to go with the HD DVD format in 2007.  
Not only this, but customers needed to replace both their standard DVD players and SD television sets, neither technically capable to display HD productions, with HD ones as well – just being mass marketed and still quite expensive at the time – in order to fully enjoy the intrinsic qualities of the Blu-ray format. At the time of the introduction of Blu-ray, SD television sets were still the norm, before the phasing-out stage of these started in earnest from 2010 onward, with the majority of TV set owners waiting for their old TV sets (and players for that matter) to give out – and prices of the new HD ones to fall – before replacing them with HD sets, only then deeming the purchase of Blu-ray discs more sensible. To aggravate matters further for the Blu-ray format, HD television sets themselves had in the same era been embroiled in a protracted format war of their own, to wit plasma vs LCD/LED screen technology, with all the similar consequences that war entailed and ultimately (and definitively) decided in favor of the more energy efficient LCD/LED technology around 2010, with the adoption of the HD television only taking off for real afterwards. None of this had been an issue with the introduction of the DVD, besides the purchase of a DVD player, and part of the reasons for its rapid adoption by the general public, contrary to the more gradual one of the Blu-ray disc.  Furthermore, the Blu-ray was on top of this not able to benefit from the classic, physical video rental circuit, which had previously so much aided the acceptance of the Betamax/VHS magnetic video tape and its subsequent DVD replacement, as it had all but disappeared by the time Blu-ray was introduced, mostly and a bit ironically, because of the success of the DVD after retail prices had dropped to the point where they virtually equaled rental rates.
Related to this was that television audiences, still unaccustomed to HD as broadcasters were at the time still experimenting on a limited scale with digital HD transmissions with the build of the associated infrastructure having just started up, initially deemed the advantages of Blu-ray over DVD too marginal to warrant the hefty investments it then required, especially since the Blu-ray disc – essentially merely perceived as a DVD upgrade at first, albeit an admittedly substantial one if consumers cared enough to make the occasional effort to visit a TV dealership's showroom, – did not afford consumers the same substantial additional advantages in regard to the physical properties of the format, the DVD had over its Betamax/VHS magnetic video tape predecessors when it was introduced.
In addition, picture quality of the DVD itself had markedly evolved for the better over time for the later generations of the format (especially when played on Blu-ray players, whose technologically superior reading lasers are capable to extract more information from the digital DVD encoding), as could be experienced with, for example, the 2005 Star Trek: Enterprise DVD release. Incidentally, that series was, with the upcoming HD transmission phenomenon in mind, already digitally produced at higher picture quality standards – the first Star Trek production to be produced this way and constituting an instance where the franchise got it right. Actually, the fact that Hollywood had at the time started to increasingly produce their productions digitally, was a contributing factor to the perceived picture quality improvement of DVDs besides the technological advancements of the format itself (see also "Downscaling and spatial resolution" in this regard). It was not until these consumers had their own HD television sets in their homes, that the intrinsic advantages of Blu-ray over DVD, or rather HD over SD, became fully apparent to them and appreciated. Most HD television sets incidentally, are capable to upscale the resolution of the low-res DVDs, contributing further to the perceived image quality improvement of the format – also becoming the primary reason why the hereafter mentioned streaming services deem it worthwhile to carry older, non-remastered SD productions in their libraries as well, most conspicuously Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Suffering for all these reasons from a much slower adoption rate than its DVD predecessor had enjoyed, it could in one sense be argued that the Blu-ray format was introduced too soon, while the DVD had everything going for it when it made its timely introduction. In essence, Blu-ray became at first effectively embroiled in a format war with its own "mother" format.
All the above was severely aggravated further still by the financial crisis of 2007–2008, which deeply affected the majority of consumers worldwide in a most definite negative manner where their purchasing power was concerned.
Forced to acknowledge the consumer reluctance, Hollywood studios still release their productions concurrently in both DVD and Blu-ray formats as of 2020 – as do Blu-ray player manufacturers for that matter, as virtually all of their technologically superior players are still capable to play DVDs as well, resulting in that DVD only players are taken out of production – , but with a twist involved; in order to entice customers, film buffs and specific fans in particular to make the switch after all, Blu-ray releases habitually include more special features than their concurrent DVD counterparts do,  which include those from the Star Trek franchise as well. Furthermore, when issued, DVD counterparts usually enjoy an one-time-only pressing.
A by the industry not accounted for phenomenon the Blu-ray format had to contend with as well, very shortly after it had won the format war, was the near-concurrent advent in the late 2000s of the increasingly popular digital "Video-on-Demand" (VoD, or "Pay-per-view" – PPV – as it was initially also known as) streaming services, as provided by such companies as, most conspicuously, Netflix and where Star Trek was concerned on the home market, CBS All Access, invariably in HD as the associated infrastructure was by now firmly in place. VoD was in itself essentially the replacement for the classic video rental circuit, but unlike the DVD, Blu-ray was not able to benefit from the modernized dissemination channel, quite the contrary actually. Without even having to invest in playback machines (as the access apps are presently standard provided with the HD television sets), and reflecting the changing attitudes of modern consumers in an increasingly digital society (where less and less value is placed on the physical ownership of home video formats  – or of any other physical collectible for that matter as the dwindling sales of other Star Trek or Star Wars merchandise testify to as well ), a consumer could now get unlimited access to a virtually infinite number of Hollywood productions for the price of one to three Blu-ray discs, depending on how many subscriptions a consumer was willing to take out, in many cases also watchable at will on mobile devices such as computer laptops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones.  As a result, VoD became a primary root cause for the rapid and substantial fall in prices of both discs and players – too prematurely from the producers' point-of-view.
There is an additional reason for consumers increasingly preferring to own/have access to their motion picture productions digitally, which has everything to do with both "double-dipping" and "backward compatibility". While it seems unlikely that Blu-ray player manufacturers will dispense with the DVD play back option (itself an instance of backward compatibility) anytime soon, older, yet digital-savvy, consumer generations have become weary of having to continuously replace their physical home video collections with newer versions, the older formats – most conspicuously the preceding and then quite expensive LaserDisc, VCD and the already mentioned HD DVD optical disc formats – usually not playable anymore when their no longer manufactured playback devices for those formats give out. With the pace of display technology innovations speeding up in recent decades as evidenced by the relatively fast advent of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray hard on the heels of the Blu-ray proper, these consumers find it increasingly easier and more expedient to go digital, not to mention more cost efficient – with the younger digital-era generations not knowing any better. Due to the plethora of (upgradable) playback computer programs available, capable of playing a multitude of digital video and audio formats (the more common ones presently standard incorporated in HD television sets as well, besides the digital mobile devices), the dangers of potential backward compatibility issues have been greatly reduced. This phenomenon had already been experienced by the entertainment industry in regard to the music Compact Disc (CD) in the early 2000s.
It is this circumstances in particular that has started to substantially hurt the sales of both DVD and Blu-ray as of late,   especially since the VoD companies habitually stream productions before the release of their respective home video formats, often already streaming parts of their special features as well to promotional ends. An issue of note for the most recent Star Trek productions such as Star Trek: Discovery, it was already experienced by the franchise with the commercial failure of their 2012-2014 remastered Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray release, whereas those for Star Trek: Enterprise (2013-2014) and Star Trek Beyond (2016) did not quite achieve the hoped for commercial success either for pretty much the same reasons. 
Incidentally and as of 2020, all of the above mentioned points, play an even stronger role in the slower still adoption of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, the intended successor of Blu-ray (introduced in 2015 and most ironically promoted by the industry as a means to combat the devastating effects of the streaming media ), the replacement issues, both soft, and hardware in particular; consumers are, to put it mildly, reluctant to upgrade their HD television sets and playback machines yet again to 4K UHD standards so soon after the upgrade from SD has been completed for the majority of them. Not only this, the majority of consumers worldwide were still recovering from the severe blow they had to contend with, resulting from the 2008 financial crisis, when they on top of it took another economic blow during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which could even entail far worse financial consequences, the extent of which as of yet unforeseen. It is more than likely the primary reason why the already in 2016 announced 4K UHD version of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Director's Cut) (in that year released as the downscaled Blu-ray version) has not seen the day of light yet, even though the remastering work to 4K UHD standards has long since been completed.
Impotent to counter the rise of the digitally disseminated formats (which includes those by illegal means, the latter-day incarnation of the piracy phenomenon), the only route open to the industry to at least somewhat soften the blows of dwindling DVD/Blu-ray disc sales, is to get production costs (and thus retail prices, in theory that is) as low as possible, just like their counterparts in the music industry were forced to do over a decade earlier in regard to their music CD – to very limited success however, as CD-sales have become but a mere shadow of what they had once been in the 1980s-1990s, potentially foreshadowing things still to come for the optical disc industry. This they could achieve through improved, more efficient production processes (making a more cost-efficient "press-on-demand"-like kind of production format or smaller press runs viable, as had been the case with the 2019 Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline 4K UHD release, thereby cutting down on SKU – "Stock Keeping Unit" – costs); moving/concentrating disc production to/in low-wage countries, those in the Far East especially; standardizing packaging and disc contents for the entire world by, among others, dispensing with the below-mentioned geo-restricting; dispensing with physical store operating retailers thereby cutting out SKU intermediaries such as CIC Video or Paramount Home Entertainment as distribution middlemen and concentrating on direct online marketeers like Amazon.com instead, and finally, by speeding-up the definitive phasing-out of the DVD. Shout! Factory became one of the first production companies who no longer issues DVD counterparts of their Blu-ray releases, with the Deep Space Nine documentary What We Left Behind as one of their last releases on the format in 2019. All of these measures are presently underway in various stages of completion.
Blu-ray releases, much like DVDs, are divided into separate regions to restrict the areas specific discs can be played. The following is a guide to the regions and which areas of the world they relate to:
|0||"Region free" releases.|
|A||East Asia (except Mainland China and Mongolia), Southeast Asia, the Americas, and their dependencies.|
|B||Africa, Southwest Asia, Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Oceania, and their dependencies (except French Guiana).|
|C||Central Asia, East Asia (Mainland China and Mongolia only), South Asia, central Eurasia, and their dependencies.|
The reasons for the application of the geo-restricting format, and the consequences it entailed, were the same ones as applied for the DVD predecessor, as were those for its diminishing relevance by the time the Blu-ray format was launched. For otherwise undisclosed reasons, though likely to be more cost-effective, production companies brought down the number of regions from six to three, already implicitly conceding the diminishing relevance of the format, and, incidentally, also indicative of the increasing irrelevance of regional, studio related, home media distribution companies like CIC Video – despite being given an extended lease on life as appointed regional spearheads in the fight against piracy – especially in the light of the growing influence of online retailers operating on a worldwide level, Amazon.com being one of the more conspicuous ones. Conversely, the relevance of the traditional, physical store operating, retailer has started to wane considerably (their already precarious plight was substantially aggravated and accelerated during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lock-down measures) because of the online retailer and streaming services – for home media formats in particular – therefore contributing to the diminishing relevance of the studio distribution companies.
As of late and while still employed – with keeping regional distributors alive as the only remaining rationale for geo-restriction – production companies, including Paramount Pictures and CBS Broadcasting,   further conceded the point by starting to release more and more regular (thus not necessarily including licensed variant releases under the aegis of regional distributors such as the "retailer exclusives") Blu-rays which are in effect region-free, regardless of what the packaging might state as was the case with the recent Star Trek films Blu-ray releases, such as the Star Trek: The Compendium, and those of the relaunched Star Wars film franchise, with regular contents standardized for the entire world, including subtitles and dubbed language audio tracks, in the process having the additional cost-saving benefit of production streamlining.  The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format successor has done away with geo-restriction altogether. 
This however, is not the case for the DVD where the geo-restriction format is still upheld in full force, which can not be otherwise explained as an additional release policy by impatient production companies to coerce consumers further to make the switch from DVD to Blu-ray already. Ironically though – and utterly negating the coercing policies of production companies – some Blu-ray player manufacturers have started to endow their more recent and higher-end models with the standard built-in ability to play DVDs from all regions while maintaining the Blu-ray region restriction, which is hardly an issue of note anymore as of late. No longer actively enforced by Hollywood anymore, it is yet another concession that region restriction has all but become obsolete.
History of Star Trek on Blu-ray
Following the false December 2007 HD-DVD start, Star Trek releases on Blu-ray commenced in April 2009 with season one of The Original Series, the two remaining seasons following in quick succession and completed in December 2009. Starting in 2012, the full series of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Enterprise were later released, likewise on a per season basis, and finishing up in early 2015. Incidentally and while generally well received in critical terms, the latter two releases became subject to criticism as the franchise employed a marketing discrimination tactic for the special features – the new HD ones coined "Value Added Material (VAM)" by their producers Roger Lay, Jr. and Robert Meyer Burnett – especially loathed by fans, the "retailer exclusive", resulting in the first "VAM controversy". All three series started to see subsequent boxed series collections, shortly after their respective individual season releases had run their courses. The animated episode "More Tribbles, More Troubles" 2006 HD remastered version was also released on the TOS Season 2 Blu-ray; the entire Animated Series was released on Blu-ray as part of the Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection, with a stand-alone release following later in November 2016, in the process becoming the last Roddenberry/Berman-era Star Trek production to see a Blu-ray release.
Hard on the heels of the first Original Series Blu-ray release, followed the release of the first ten Star Trek films, they themselves remastered to Blu-ray standards following the favorable reception of the Original Series remastering project. For technical reasons only the original theatrical releases were remastered and not the "special editions" as previously released on DVD. Remarkably, they were first released as boxed collections – Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection and Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection in May and September 2009 respectively – before the individual titles were issued separately. Notable was, that for these releases a new selection of new special features had been produced by Tim King, which were included alongside the special features originally done for the 2001-2005 "special editions" DVD collection, albeit in standard definition contrary to the new ones which were produced in high definition. A bit ironically perhaps, it were these archival ones that were left out of the remastered films DVD counterparts, where only the newly produced ones were featured as explained above.
2009 turned out to be a fruitful year for the Blu-ray format as December has also seen the start of the Blu-ray release run of the three alternate universe films, which incidentally had already been digitally produced to HD standards, explaining their rapid release in the new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format as well. A bit puzzling was that the first one, Star Trek, saw a basic one-disc "vanilla" release a year after the three-disc "special" release, which constituted a break with franchise tradition – predominantly employed for the DVD format – as this had until then been the other way around for the previous Star Trek films, Star Trek: The Motion Picture excepted. Not only that, the release also contained in effect less special features than its one year earlier released DVD counterpart, which was likewise uncommon as this was usually the other way around considering the industry's favoritism towards the new Blu-ray format. For the pursuant film releases however, the franchise has dispensed with the "vanilla" release format for both the DVD and Blu-ray formats, making this, together with the 2013 Star Trek: The Original Series - Origins release, the only "vanilla" ones for Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray release for second alternate reality film, Star Trek Into Darkness, became the subject of intense and vehement criticism of the franchise as it, in the eyes of customers and fans, went truly overboard with the allocation of the "retailer exclusives" whereby a large amount of the special features were divided over half a dozen separate retailers. This time around the clamor following its version of "The VAM controversy" became such (even causing the outside, but influential, The Digital Bits industry website to intervene ), that it eventually resulted in the release of the September 2014 Star Trek: The Compendium release in which (almost) all previously dispersed special features for the first two alternate universe films were collected in one release. Even though they have never explicitly admitted it as such, it has marked the very first known time that the franchise has ever publicly buckled under fan pressure. Unfortunately, the outcry was not enough to dissuade the franchise from continuing with the practice unabated, as the retailer exclusive format was yet again utilized for the next, 2016 Star Trek Beyond Blu-ray outing, albeit not as extensive as before. With the cancellation of the fourth alternate reality film (Star Trek 4), it appears that for the time being the release of new film titles has come to an end, the continuing re-releases of the already existing ones as boxed collections excepted.
In July 2016, the Star Trek: The Original Series - The Roddenberry Vault release of twelve The Original Series episodes was announced, noting that it would include previously unseen footage, including deleted scenes and bloopers.  Notable was that this release, eventually issued in December with extensive special features also produced by Roger Lay, has become the very first substantial new Star Trek title not to see a DVD counterpart release – even though, strictly speaking, the "honor" should go to the already mentioned Star Trek: The Original Series - Origins release, but that one was merely a simple, "vanilla" rehashing of already previously released editions that had seen DVD counterparts.
2016 also saw another first in June, when the above mentioned Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Director's Cut) was released as the first of the "special edition" versions of the films. A brand new in 4K HD 2160p resolution remastered "Director's Cut" was, albeit downscaled to the 1080p resolution format for its underlying Blu-ray home video format, included on the release alongside the originally remastered theatrical release and all available special features with a newly produced one to boot. After having confirmed that all necessary digital assets were still in existence, David C. Fein, one of the co-producers of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition), has in February 2017 intimated that a Blu-ray release of that version still resides in the realms of possibility, having stated that "Paramount has yet to green light the project. We've had some discussions," adding that "it'll happen, the only question is when are we going to go ahead with it".  By early 2019 though, the status of a Blu-ray release remained yet unknown as dropping Blu-ray sales and the financial troubles Paramount was in at the time (having been part of the reasons for the cancellation of Star Trek 4) is increasingly diminishing the likelihood of the "The Director's Edition" ever seeing a HD release. Furthermore, the more time passes, the more chance increases of the digital assets becoming obsolete, no longer accessible in the newer, upgraded versions of the software it was created in, back in 2001. Nonetheless, preliminary talks were reported by both Trekcore and TrekMovie.com to have resumed in July 2019 for a remastered release, albeit for a 4K UHD one.
With the revival of the Star Trek television franchise in 2017, series releases started up again when Star Trek: Discovery saw its first season released on Blu-ray in November 2018, alongside its DVD counterpart, remarkably featuring the same amount of special features for both, constituting something of a break in release policies as the franchise had up to that point in time favored the Blu-ray format with the inclusion of more special features. Quite possibly this had been an intentional franchise attempt to avoid the 2014 "The VAM controversy" that had followed the home media format releases of the first two alternate reality films.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
CBS has commented that a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Blu-ray release is a possibility. In a post on Twitter, Michael Okuda commented, "We've heard that CBS execs would love to give DS9 the HD treatment, if sales for TNG HD continue to support it."  Craig Weiss of CBS Digital commented that there has been talk about remastering Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  As of February 2019, however, there has been no official decision made public.
Regarding DS9 on Blu-ray, Roger Lay, Jr. commented,
"We're all ready to go, man. I've been finding some really cool stuff related to the making of Deep Space Nine that I can’t wait to put on a Blu-ray set. Enterprise is out on Blu-ray as well – we released that simultaneously with TNG. So DS9 seems like the next logical choice". Lay, Jr. also commented, "Deep Space Nine, we all want to do it. I'll tell you that. I think it'll be more difficult in the sense that by season 4 of DS9 you had digital elements, a lot of digital elements. By the Dominion War they were doing entire sequences that were digital, there were no models anymore. On TNG we've had all these plates and all these model motion-control shots to re-composite. You don't have anything like that now. So you kind of have to recreate everything when it comes to that stage. I think the first three seasons will be fairly close to what has been done on Next Gen, but by season 4 and beyond it will get a lot more complicated. So all of that has to be factored in. And honestly they have to look at the sales of Next Gen and see how it did overall and what kind of a budget they could allot for Deep Space Nine. So will it happen immediately? I don't know. Do we all want to go and bring Deep Space Nine back? Absolutely. I think the next couple of months will be crucial. It will also be crucial to fans who have been waiting for all seven seasons of TNG to be released. It sounds sad, but it's a business decision when it should be a creative one. But you need sales in order to put out more product, it's as simple as that. We're hoping to get news within the next several months. But if fans want to do anything to make that happen, pick up these Blu-ray sets right now, because the entire Next Generation collection will be out."The documentary What We Left Behind was released on Blu-ray and features remastered footage from the DS9 series.
|Blu-ray Disc releases|
|The Original Series • The Animated Series • Star Trek films • The Next Generation • Enterprise • Discovery • Short Treks • Picard|
|Home video formats|
|Super 8 • Betamax • VHS • CED • LaserDisc • VHD • Video 8 • VCD • DVD • UMD • HD DVD • Blu-ray • 4K Ultra HD • Digital|
Blu-ray Disc release chronology
- Blu-rayDisc.com – official site
- Blu-ray Disc at Wikipedia
- Blu-ray.com – Blu-Ray disc review site, including technical details
- High-Def Digest – Blu-Ray disc review site, including technical details
- RegionFreeMovies.com – website where its community collects Blu-ray region coding data, most notably the region-free ones
- Star Trek domestic home video disc sales at The Numbers – industry site following the US domestic sales of selected titles in both the DVD and Blu-ray format