Streaming Services: the future of entertainment

By Sarah Fischer

For decades, visiting the theater to see a newly released movie has been a beloved family tradition, but that idea has drastically changed with the rise in popularity of streaming sites, such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, within the last decade.

Although these sites have been around since the late ’90s, their low cost and easier access have created intense competition with not only the theatrical film business but network television as well with the release of original content. Much of this new content has been critically well received and commercially successful. 

Netflix has become a beacon in the film industry, paving the way for new and creative ideas and revitalizing old concepts to fit in with society’s modern taste.

In the minds of many, however, streaming sites like Netflix are a threat to the rest of the entertainment industry. Wall Street Journal reporter and author Ben Fritz said in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, “They’re [streaming sites] having a massive impact on Hollywood. They’re disrupting all the traditional economics of television and movies.”

Fritz said that Netflix still hasn’t gathered the funds to produce $200 million “franchise films,” such as commercially successful “Transformers” and “The Avengers,” but they are moving forward in the industry and coming close with films like the fantasy comedy “Bright,” which had a budget of nearly $100 million and starred A-List actor Will Smith.

Regardless of production value, streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu offer many options at a cheaper price for consumers compared to cable providers, creating more of an imminent danger for cable television rather than Hollywood.

Not only does Hulu allow access to commercial-free network television shows for $7.99 per month, but it also plays host to popular films and original series, such as the critically acclaimed “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Similarly, Netflix offers no-commitment plans with a cost of up to $13.99 per month and an availability to watch on four different devices at once.

Despite the savings streaming services offer, cable providers like Xfinity and DirecTV have the ability to create bundles for consumers. This can arguably be the reason they are still relevant today, but streaming companies are finding other ways to connect with consumers.

Phone companies such as T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint have bundled together streaming services with their phone plans, creating more accounts and easier on-the-go access.  Although cable companies and Hollywood have been able to retain relevance in the changing film industry, the growing demand for convenience will continue to create intense competition for both theatrical films and network television.