And now for something completely different
Life used to be so simple. Pay the television license once a year (or don’t) and you got access to it all. Every channel available, or one yearly bill. You didn’t need to worry about missing anything. It was either on Channel One, or Channel Two.
Things got even better when they brought in VHS tape recorders. Not only did you not have to worry about missing anything, but you could record it and watch it over and over again. As long as you could figure out how to work the timer if you were going to be out. You also had to be careful if you were pausing it during ad breaks, in case you forgot to start recording again.
It all got rather complicated in the 90s when Sky TV was launched. However, if you weren’t a football fan, this wasn’t a huge problem. The good TV wasn’t really on Sky.
Nowadays, though, it’s a total mess. Sports fans have to subscribe to about four or five different providers to follow everything. Fans of regular TV have to choose between Netflix, Sky, Apple, Mubi, Disney, Now TV, Prime Video etc.
Once upon a time, to be a TV or film reviewer was something many of us were in awe of, but with so many providers offering a smorgasbord of interesting content, its hard to maintain clarity, let alone keeping a finger on content nowadays.
So where’s it all heading? What’s the next big leap in broadcasting? In the UK, households have never spent so much on TV services, despite the fact that many are now ditching traditional cable providers like Sky in favour of streaming services.
The online streaming services are going to have to begin upping their prices. Take Netflix, for example. They now have 200 million subscribers, but have spent about $15 billion to get there. They are now either going to have to cut spending on new shows, increase charges, or a combination of both as the market is now being flooded with competitors. Amazon, on the other hand, are able to subsidise Prime Video as they are making margins on consumer products.
We could certainly be on the way to a more consolidated marketplace. Disney are leading the charge on this with their huge acquisitions of 21st Century Fox and Lucasfilm, which will give them a wealth of top quality, popular content.
Amazon is following suit with its purchase of MGM, which could give it the rights to past, present and future James Bond films.
These buyouts of film producers will no doubt be worrying for cinemas, as the streaming giants will want to capture subscribers with big films on their platforms, not in the cinemas.
The future for some is uncertain, but the future for the traditional media outlets such as RTÉ or the BBC is challenging.