While impressive, streaming movies and/or pay-per-view movies from cable or satellite are not the same as watching a movie on a physical Blu-ray disc. But there are those (specifically DirecTV) who will tell you that their PPV is the "same as Blu-ray." Respectfully, that is utter bullshit. Streaming or PPV movies are easy to access but the compression of the distribution systems do not produce the same quality of video that you get from a physical disc. Streaming movies in my home over a very fast (30 MBPS down) Internet connection look pixilated with frequent ghosting, motion artifacts and drop outs of the "HD signal," thus leaving me with a standard definition feed. Audio-wise, DirecTV can provide 5.1 Dolby Digital which is nice for many home theaters but respectfully - that is more than 10 year old surround sound technology. When I want to watch a movie in a high end home theater, I want Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio 7.1 surround sound - not Pro Logic 5.1. With the Internet and satellite pipeline sized the way it is now - via streaming or pay-per-view today, you simply cannot get the video or audio quality that Blu-ray has to offer.
Why are studios, streaming companies, rental companies and electronics companies pushing downloads? The answer is simple and includes lots of green paper with my boy from Philly, Ben Franklin, printed on the front. Netflix reportedly spends over $650,000,000 per year on US Mail to send discs. They also, according to a source close to HomeTheaterReview.com from Hollywood, are only really buying blockbuster films on Blu-ray. No indie movies or smaller movies. This comes as Netflix has increased the cost of renting movies with a subscription that allows for Blu-ray movies. Studios love selling Blu-rays because they are very profitable but electronics companies selling HDTVs alongside big boxes of Capt'n Crunch now can make a commission selling movies to you on your HDTV. That's a hell of a lot more profitable long term than the $50 to $100 profit they made in a Wal-mart, Costco-driven big box retail world. Pushing downloads to you, the consumer, is in their best interest even if it provides significantly downgraded video and surround sound.
In the end, the consumer rules in today's economy. Some movies are perfectly suited for streaming and download. Other situations make the convenience of downloading just too good to resist. But when that special movie comes along that the director and the studio went big to produce (think The Dark Knight, Inception, Pixar movies etc...) - consider what level of experience you want from your home theater. If you want the state of the art for 1080p video with the least commercial compression with master tape quality 7.1, uncompressed audio - your best choice is Blu-ray. Could downloads be just as good someday? That's very possible but that day is not here right now nor is the Internet bandwidth to suck such high volume data into your HDTV or home theater system.