The rude growth associated with streaming cannot be overstated.
But can it continue?
Most give Covid-19 credit for pushing the world’s largest inherited entertainment giants – – Walt Disney Company
,, WarnerMedia i Comcast
With two vaccines approved and others along the way, some see the explosion in the stream as similar to the business boom of Internet-based “applications” of the late 1990s, exciting but probably short-lived.
In other words, some experts believe that when we can once again enjoy old-fashioned entertainment options, such as going to the movies, streaming subscriptions will have to slow down, and the days of “go go” streaming will disappear, the way MySpace disappeared and how VHS machines and DVDs have become objects more suited to The Smithsonian than to one’s home theater. Experts believe that what happens when streaming is a flash, a flash in the pan, a shiny object that is likely to be ejected before you can say “eight-track tape”.
I do not agree.
Anyone who believes that streaming is a short-lived fashion has not observed wider entertainment trends.
Here are five reasons why streaming big shows will not only continue, but could eliminate other sectors of entertainment:
1. The film business as we once knew it is over
Independent film chains – – AMC, Cineplex and Cineworld – – they will probably either stop doing business, merge with large entertainment studios or buy them out in full, which will result in film houses becoming “studio-oriented”. You and your family will go to Disney Cinema, where the new releases will play alongside older Disney titles, animated classics and movies that the studio believes should stay in the cinema for months instead of the weeks they were once moved to. Going to the cinema will become a more expensive “nice to have” affair, because it will function as a “brand extension” of the title that you can easily see on the same day / date when the film was released in the cinema, at home, via streaming service. Before the pandemic, most Americans watched the movie at the cineplex between 3-5 times a year. We can safely assume that after a pandemic that number may be reduced to 1 or 2 visits. Why go out when consumers at home can see brand new content, safer and cheaper?
2. Broadcasting and cable television have given up
As written about this and elsewhere, network television has not been a home for scheduling content for many years, and at last year’s Emmys, no network show brought home an award, or in many cases even a nomination, in any of the major categories. Americans still watch network television, but its importance is largely reduced to sports, reality TV, and local news. Broadcast television once waged a hearty fight against the emergence of cable television and its competition in content. But now things are completely different. It’s as if, when streaming came along, suits on both the broadcast and cable network simply said, “I’m giving up” Or more importantly, the owners of the same entertainment companies, seeing the future of streaming, said, “It’s time to focus our resources elsewhere . “
3. Studies are sick of sharing
One of the many benefits of streaming for studios is that they can control the supply chain from idea to distribution. The studio will no longer have to share the box office with the theater owner. It won’t have to double in marketing when the title leaves the cinema for SVOD. It won’t have to license its content to a cable or network provider (unless it owns that cable or network provider) and therefore can predict with even greater certainty the lifespan and profitability of anything from a low-budget reality show to a big budget, franchise, feature film.
4. The Hollywood community is fine with that
Despite a lot of grumbling around the way WarnerMedia announced its turn to digital with produced theatrical content that should be in theaters in 2021 and later, apparently without warning of their top talent, the agents who represent them or the theater owners themselves who would be most affected, it is true, Hollywood is largely accepting that streaming is necessary and accepted a new way forward. The romance of watching someone’s work on the big screen will still be possible, but it won’t happen in a sequential, linear manner like it used to. Some spells will disappear, but not all. And as much as people think of Hollywood as an emotionally immature community populated by irresponsible, short-sighted artists (by the way, true), those same artists are people who love to work. If the word streaming equals “pay” – then Hollywood will accept it, as it always has. Artists and audiences accepted it when vaudeville switched to traditional theater … when theater became radio … when radio became short film … when silent film became “toki” … when two reelers became feature films a game … when TV competed with movies and now when streaming challenges everything.
5. Follow the money
When you reduce how much original content will be focused on streaming platforms in the next 12-18 months, compared to what was available on newer streaming platforms in mid-2020, the difference will be staggering and will look unusual in comparison. Everything new that the consumer will want to see will be primarily available on their streaming platform. Everything else – – theatrical, broadcast, cable or something else yet to be invented – – follows, not because of the pandemic or the failure of the cinema – – but because every major entertainment studio and digital platform has decided to move in that direction. While the shift from multi-layered multi-platform content to studio-owned digital platforms may have seemed abrupt (and it was), it will remain so.
Like the Internet or the telephone, streaming is a technology that is here and is likely to dominate, at least in the entertainment sector. But like traditional snail mail or landline telephones, the real question becomes: what will happen to TV, cable TV and satellite? Are these entertainment sectors as durable as Broadway, radio and cinema, or will a traditional TV program without streams go vaudeville?
We’ll probably know long before we think.