Why Streaming Looks to Change the Face of Entertainment

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Netflix has revolutionised the way people watch TV and film, putting video streaming well and truly on the map. Now, instead of being at the mercy of television networks, viewers can choose which programmes they want to watch at any time. Even cinema is changing, with Netflix releasing its own blockbusters like Bird Box and Bright straight to the platform. YouTube gets over 30 million visitors per day, and Twitch has 2.2 million monthly broadcasters. Live streaming is on the rise as well, with multiple industries using the new technology for a plethora of different reasons. The way things are heading, entertainment could be transformed further in that there will soon be interactive live streaming.

Netflix Has Changed the Game

When Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph founded Netflix in 1997, they aimed to change the way people rented videos, and directly challenged well-established services like Blockbuster. Instead of going into a shop and browsing films, viewers instead selected what they wanted online and had the titles delivered directly to their door. This was the business model until internet speeds and bandwidths became fast enough for the company to offer video on demand. This occurred in 2007 and led to Netflix’s usership increasing while DVD sales declined. By 2009, the platform offered 12,000 movies and shows. These numbers have been growing rapidly ever since and now the company has the rights to a multitude of different projects. This has resulted in a net income of $2.8 billion as of 2018.

Aside from giving viewers the power to watch whatever they want, whenever they want, one of the main reasons for Netflix’s success has been the quality of the shows available. House of Cards was one of the first major series that Netflix got hold of, and the political drama starring Oscar winner Kevin Spacey was nominated for nine Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013. Instead of releasing an episode on a weekly basis, Netflix allowed viewers to watch a whole series in one go. This led to the binge-watching appeal of the platform, and has brought about series creators seeking to make binge worthy viewing.

There have been numerous other notable shows on the channel which have been met with strong critical acclaim. Orange is the New Black premiered soon after House of Cards, and the American prison drama has been nominated for sixteen Emmy Awards during its six-season run. Stranger Things, which began in 2016, has also been a major hit for Netflix. The 1980s-set sci-fi horror has been nominated for ten Primetime Emmy Awards and has also had four Golden Globe nominations.

After proving highly capable of changing the way people watch television series, Netflix decided to put more focus into releasing major films directly to the platform. Its aim is to completely cut out the cinema and have blockbuster films available to watch at home as soon as they come out. One major statement of this intent was with Bright, which starred one of Hollywood’s highest-paid A-listers, Will Smith. The movie wasn’t well received by critics but it did generate a high number of views and showed that the idea of releasing film content in this way was feasible. More recently, Susanne Bier’s Bird Box took the world by storm. The post-apocalyptic thriller starring Sandra Bullock had the biggest seven-day viewership of any of Netflix’s original films to date. Over 45 million accounts watched the movie, which is based on Josh Malerman’s novel. The success of this offering will doubtlessly lead to Netflix producing many more big films in the near future. Whether the streaming service can completely negate the need for the cinema remains to be seen.

Live Streaming Taking Things a Step Further

Live streaming is a fairly recent phenomenon, but it has already taken the world by storm. Facebook introduced its live streaming service in 2016, and live broadcasts have doubled year on year since it began. It has proved to be a lucrative platform, with publishers and celebrities earning more than $50 million from live videos by October 2018. The growth potential of the platform is highlighted by the fact that live videos have produced six times as many interactions as pre-recorded videos.

Live streaming differs from streaming videos on Netflix because they are happening in real time. It is possible to re-watch live videos that have already happened, but viewers have less control over when they can watch things. However, viewers do have control over which channels they follow and what games they play. Live streaming has been a revelation in the online casino industry, and this is because the games are designed for players to drop in and out of at any time. Live roulette and blackjack games ran by a real-life dealer bring the casino experience to players in their homes. They have been a very successful addition to the online casino industry.

In other sections of the gaming industry, live streaming has changed the way people enjoy this form of entertainment. Twitch allows viewers to watch gamers as they play games live on air. The concept may sound strange to some, but it harks back to a time when friends used to go to each other’s houses and huddle around a games console. This is something that almost disappeared with online play, but has come back in a big way now. Some gamers are even seeing this as a viable career path, as there is money to be made from having a lot of subscribers. Fortnite streamer Ninja, for example, has over 5.8 million followers and earns more than $350,000 from his subscribers.

The Future: Interactive Live Streaming?

Live streaming is interactive in the way that viewers can instantly comment on and react to videos. However, they currently have little influence over what is happening in the video. Interactivity is an idea which has been explored a lot, though, and we could be heading in the direction of having more viewer involvement with programming. Netflix has already begun to pioneer interactive programming with the recent Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, and this could easily lead to more of the same.

Bandersnatch was created by Charlie Brooker, who has constantly had innovative ideas about the way in which technology will progress. Released in December 2018, the one-off Black Mirror special allowed viewers to make some choices which had an effect on what played out on screen. The general plot turned out pretty much the same no matter what viewers chose, but there was some novelty for viewers in seeing the characters do exactly what they had told them to do. Could the next step in this progression be to have interactive live streams which allow viewers to have control over the action? This could be a new way of watching plays on the internet, for instance, as the actors carry out things live after viewers have voted.

The possibilities for streaming are endless, and the fact that both video and live streaming have been such revelations suggests that there will be continued innovations for the technology in the future.

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