Back in 1998, an oddity came on the scene. Netflix began as an Internet-based movie rental business that intended to compete with Blockbuster video. In the years since, Netflix has evolved considerably. Today, the tech and entertainment giant provides video streaming services that include its own shows and movies.
Streaming On Demand
At first, Netflix had an inventory that included less than 1,000 movies. Over time, it came up with the idea of subscription video-on-demand. Improvements in the delivery of Internet services with broadband and high-speed Internet allowed for the rapid download of entire movies. These videos could effectively stream through a user’s computer and slow down the time necessary to wait for a download.
Over time, as smart phones and tablet devices with WiFi access became ubiquitous in society, Netflix and other streaming services had additional avenues to reach a growing subscriber base. At first, there was little threat to cable companies, which were themselves originally caused disruption in the entertainment industry. Streaming services allow subscribers to watch anywhere at any time. The only limits are the respective libraries each service might have access to at a given time.
Another innovation that’s come from the rise of subscription video-on-demand services is the ability to binge watch. Prior to Netflix, it was necessary to wait for a week to watch the next episode of a popular TV series like Friends or Seinfeld. Now, Netflix releases entire seasons of its hit shows at the same time. Many times, these shows will come out on Fridays so that viewers can spend an entire weekend watching. Unlike cable and over-the-air TV, which were created for mass consumption, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services are set up for individuals to watch what they want to watch, whenever and wherever they want to watch it.
Big Entertainment Is Following Suit
Streaming services are taking business from the traditional cable companies as more and more people become cord cutters. This has led some major entertainment groups to come up with their own streaming services. For example, Disney is working on a subscription service for its vast library of movies and television shows. It’s also expected to stream live sports through its upcoming ESPN streaming service. The question is not whether streaming services have changed the game, it’s how much more change is coming.