Rise of streaming services ends era of theater and cable

April 25, 2019 — by Megan Chen

“Want to go see ‘Endgame’ this weekend?”

“I’m just going to wait until it’s on Netflix.”

As streaming services become more and more popular, situations like this occur more often. With their convenience and variety of movies and shows, streaming services have begun to dominate the film industry.

Streaming services were originally platforms that made movies and shows accessible after being dropped from theaters and cable networks, much like old-school video rental services like Blockbuster. Streaming services have since expanded to create their own films, making them a major threat to the traditional movie industry.

A recent complaint from Steven Spielberg stating that Netflix films shouldn’t be allowed to win Oscars sparked debates about the consequences of streaming services. The award-winning director thought it was unfair for Netflix films to be nominated for the Oscars because of their very limited theater releases.

Currently, movies are eligible for the Oscars only if they are in theaters for at least one week, so Netflix releases its movies both online and in a couple small theaters to qualify. Because of the limited theater releases of the Netflix movies, Spielberg believes that Netflix films should be treated as TV releases and instead be nominated for the Emmys.

Directors like Spielberg are worried that the industry will suffer similar consequences as video stores, and the theatrical experience will become extinct.

Traditional studios are unable to keep up with the speed at which services like Netflix produce new films. Access to Netflix movies is only available to those who have the privilege of spending about $8 a month per streaming service, and if the demand for theaters decreases due to the increase of Netflix movies, watching movies will become a luxury.

Similarly, cable television has suffered from the rise of streaming services; in the U.S., over 33 million people cut off cable subscriptions in 2018, and over 22 million people in 2017.

With the lack of commercials and wait between episodes of a show, streaming services seem to be more compelling than their counterparts. The price of streaming services is also significantly less than cable; $8 a month vs. costs that can run into the hundreds.

While cable offers more exposure to news and live sports than streaming services, streaming services are also combined in packages with other platforms to make them more appealing to many consumers. Hulu has recently paired with Spotify premium, and Amazon Prime offers Amazon Video.

The growth of streaming services are leading to the downfall of video rental stores and cable TV, and if the film industry continues to ignore the rise of streaming services, it will be next.

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