Branching off from a small topic in my last post, the future of online streaming is an entirely new debate going on right now. It is an exciting and terrifying time for the entertainment industry because there is so much room to grow but failure is also a definite possibility. The Week put it best when they wrote, “About 5 million people signed up for Netflix, Hulu, and other low-cost -streaming-video services in 2013, so they could watch shows and movies via the internet. Many of these people simultaneously ‘cut the cord’ on their pay-TV subscriptions, resulting in a net decline of 250,000 cable subscribers that year — the first time that total has gone down. While cable companies still have 56 million subscribers among them, Netflix alone has rapidly amassed 36 million. That number is expected to keep rising, as people switch to the cheaper alternative of watching TV and movies on computers and TVs hooked up to the internet. Some networks already offer cable subscribers the option to stream their content, but next year both HBO and CBS will launch streaming services that don’t require a cable subscription — the start, some say, of an ‘à la carte’ subscription model. ‘The television industry is in transformation,’ says media analyst Jeffrey Kagan. ‘This entire space is going to be a completely different space in five years.'” Streaming exclusives like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have been a major weapon in winning the war against cable. Although shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead have injected life into a stale television schedule polluted by soulless sitcoms and shameless rip offs.
Sports broadcasting is one issue that has only been slightly addressed through streaming. Although many large events can be streamed through certain websites, a majority of the games are only available through cable. That is probably going to change in the near future but it is a problem for the time being. The Week also points out another problem, “No. Many viewers aren’t willing to wait months or a year for their favorite shows to be available online. And an “à la carte” system may be more expensive than people think. The most popular series are scattered across a number of channels, and the cost of subscribing to all these individually — HBO’s service alone will be at least $15 a month — could well be as much as a cable bundle.” They may be overestimating the price of the services because Hulu Plus has a good number of various popular programs and it only costs about $10 a month. Netflix is around $8 (more if you stream in 4K) and HBO is $15. People could be spending $50 at the most a month for all their favorite shows right when they want them.