In 2020, the streaming media sector grew at a breakneck pace, but where does it go from here? While we relished in the feeling of starting over and leaving 2020 behind us, the long-term consequences of what we all experienced in the previous 12 months will significantly impact how each industry develops in the future year. For example, many people believe that movie theatres will never recover due to their closure for much of 2020.
If the epidemic hadn’t already made streaming the future of the entertainment industry, it certainly has now. Major companies such as Disney and Warner Bros. had already launched their own streaming services that made great entertainment options before 2020, and existing platforms such as Netflix have remained popular since their inception.
The question of international distribution is one of the primary issues that the pandemic has brought to light. Of course, staggering overseas releases is nothing new – they were once the standard for major Hollywood blockbusters. However, new concerns have emerged with the advent of the internet and streaming; the most troublesome is piracy. When a movie is published to a streaming service, a high-quality version almost instantly appears on a malicious website.
This is less of an issue with cinema releases because no one wants to spoil a release with a shoddy handycam version. However, when an all-digital, HD version is made accessible in the UK that everyone is talking about, the temptation to stream from a shady website is even stronger. Because of the large number of new streaming platforms – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Paramount Plus, Apple TV Plus, Hulu, Peacock, etc. – the problem of piracy is set to multiply tenfold.
Audiences, myself included, enjoy the big screen: surround sound music, the smell of popcorn and, in most cases, the reactions of a riled-up audience are sorely missed when I’m watching a movie at home. It’s one of the rare times when you can entirely forget about the rest of the world and your troubles, if only for a few hours. Of course, it isn’t always a perfect experience, but it is one of the most excellent feelings in the world when things go well. As a result, the continuous rise of streaming is a mixed blessing.
Streaming has an undeniable advantage over theatres due to its convenience and direct-to-consumer nature. The option to stream films from home is significant for folks who do not live near large cities that play limited release films or who live far from a theatre. Even for individuals who have instant access to a theatre, streaming provides a level of comfort and personalization that is impossible to achieve in a theatre.
For some families, the expense of going to the movies is difficult to justify compared to what they would spend to stream. You may bring your own food and drinks, pause the film for a restroom break without missing anything vital, and avoid the bustle and distractions that can occasionally plague the cinema when you watch movies at home.
Even in the UK, Netflix still dominates the landscape. Despite reports in February that Amazon Prime Video had exploited its streaming of Premier League football events to fuel a faster pace of growth than Netflix, more than 40% of homes have a Netflix subscription. So it would be a mistake to believe that Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and other streaming services have a bleak future. However, it’s debatable how many successful streaming services we can have. According to reports, the number of SVOD (streaming video on demand) subscribers would more than double over the next four years (from 22.4 million to 44.6 million in 2024). So cinema streaming platforms have a lot of potential.
While the cost of a single streaming service has climbed significantly over the last thirteen years, it still pales compared to the cost of cable or satellite, and that will likely stay the case in the future.
The way most individuals today prefer to consume content independently has both advantages and disadvantages. Devices are portable and allow me to keep track of my own time and routine. This portion has been a lot of fun for me. When I want to see something, I watch it. On the other hand, I am more easily sidetracked. My world of make-believe is shattered as my phone rings. I frequently take a break and resume the next day. Because I forget, I overlook critical, meaningful connections or subtle cues.
Although the streaming takeover is still in its early stages, its impact is already being seen across the industry, and the pandemic has just hastened what we could have predicted. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess whether movie theatres and cable television will survive, but one thing is sure as we travel into uncharted territory: streaming is ahead of the game.