When you first encountered someone with Tivo (or a similar television recording service) it probably seemed like a wonder of the times. You can record your shows and skip the commercials? Talk about innovation!
Since then, streaming of shows and movies has rapidly become the number one way to view your content. Services like Hulu and Amazon Prime feature some series that are available immediately after they’ve aired on television. Netflix is dominating this market right now with a plethora of original shows and movies. They’re efforts in putting out original stories ranges from romantic comedies like Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, to dark and action packed superhero tales like Marvel's Daredevil. It’s safe to say that streaming has replaced television for a lot of consumers out there. And while sports still live firmly on television (for the most part), narrative content is exploding online.
Something to be considered is TV as we know it becoming obsolete. Practically everyone has access to the internet and any number of the streaming services out there. Convenience and quality, especially if it only continues to get better could push consumers in the direction of purely streamed content.
Would that be a bad thing? It would certainly be a major shift in the form that we watch anything. Tuning in at a certain time wouldn’t be necessary. Once a show “premieres” on Netflix, all the episodes of the season are there and ready for viewing. It’s this choice that has introduced the concept of “binge watching” to viewers. Other services might premiere one episode at a time, following more closely to the TV format. But once an episode is available, there’s no schedule to meet. The episode is loose now, out in the world to be seen by whoever seeks it out.
As always, advertising will rear it’s head and find it’s way into your shows. It’s either product placement or a lot of commercials crammed into the run time of what you’re watching. When recently trying to watch new episodes of The X Files streamed on Fox’s website, ads were peppered throughout the video. While nobody likes commercials, the money for these shows has to come from somewhere. Streaming isn’t attempting to do away with that, commercials will find a way to reach you and try to sell you their product.
The progression from scheduled programming to freely available streaming is a quickly expanding horizon. We’re going to see a lot more content come from it, and more changes in the way we get our shows delivered to us that haven’t been considered or thought of yet. Since streaming/original content is hitting this level of popularity, upcoming filmmakers need to consider bringing their projects to an outlet like Netflix or Amazon. Sure, you want your first feature film to play in theaters. But it could be more feasible, and possibly even more successful if distributed online for people to watch at their leisure.
Just because something isn’t on a network or on a marquee does’t disqualify it from being legitimate. To the same point, something isn’t automatically considered legitimate just because it is on TV or in the theater.