5 Ways Streaming Video Will Suck in the Future
With shows like House of Cards and the much-ballyhooed new season of Arrested Development hitting Netflix, streaming video has begun challenging TV as the world's go-to source for episodic movie-novels. Which is great news, because television is an annoying, bureaucracy-crazed dinosaur of a system, like a diplodocus that makes you take a urine test! And something as futuristic as streaming would never, ever end up turning into something as bass-ackwards as TV, right?
Well, yeah, it will. And the worst part is it's completely inevitable, because ...
We'll Still Have Separate TV Channels (Only More Expensive)
The biggest reason Netflix became so popular was that it had all your favorite shows in one place, for one fee! No more tracking shows across different channels, or having to hire another service whenever a new kickass series sta-
Yep, our streaming options are quickly starting to fragment. The companies that own the rights to those shows only licensed them to Netflix because it was the only option, and let's face it, no one thought watching Frasier on your PlayStation would catch on. Now that streaming is more popular than cable, those companies are starting to take their toys back (or peddle them with exclusive arrangements) so they can get in on this action. So you may not need 70 different channels to catch all your favorite shows anymore, but soon you might need 70 different streaming services.
It's Gonna Be Impossible to See Recent Movies for Cheap
Another great perk of streaming is that you could bring recent movies to your TV without getting off your ass. Even if Netflix didn't have the latest Brett Ratner masterpiece, you could always go to the local movie rental store and get it from that kid who still gives you shit because you didn't "get" Donnie Darko. Good thing that place isn't going anywhere ...
... because it's totally fucking dead.
Oh, right. Netflix has driven Blockbuster and pretty much every other movie rental place out of business. Also, remember when we said companies are starting their own streaming services? Yeah, turns out some of them are only streaming their old stuff and hanging on to the rights to new movies. But hey, at least now you can get your friends together for that Clark Gable marathon you always talked about.
No, It Won't Save Cult Shows
"But Netflix brought back Arrested Development!" you cry desperately, tearing at your homemade "I Just Blue Myself" T-shirt. And yes, they did bring back a great show -- but it didn't work out for them. In fact, you might say they blue themselves.
Like the guy in the show! We win the Internet.
No matter how much you enjoyed it, the reviews for Arrested Development Season 4 were "mixed," and Netflix's stock dipped in the aftermath of middling reviews. Note that we only said "mixed," not "bad" (71 out of 100 on Metacritic), but that stock drop is still the biggest one Netflix has suffered in six months.
So yeah, don't expect streaming video to become a game preserve for your favorite unjustly cancelled series -- streaming series may not be subject to the exact same economic considerations as TV shows, but they have their own economic considerations regardless. And since Netflix has explicitly said that they don't care about the fans of cult shows, you might as well go ahead and close that "Bring Back Outsourced" petition.
But It Will Save Commercials!
Services like Netflix seem too good to be true: so many hours of distraction for just $8 a month? Well, here's the secret: It is too good to be true. Netflix can't survive on its current business model, and it's going to have to either raise prices or figure out some other form of revenue. Like, you know, a system where companies pay someone like Vince Shlomi to talk about their products in the middle of the movies and shows you're already enjoying.
"Stanley Kubrick's The Shining will resume after 15 minutes of ShamWow."
And since ads these days are way more effective on streaming video than on TV, that means companies will try to move things in this direction, too. The main difference is that ads are gonna know what your favorite shows are and, most likely, all the shit you liked on Facebook.
Streaming Is a Really Unstable Business Model
No matter how you spin it, streaming just isn't good business for the big companies ... which is only unfortunate because they're the ones that make the shit we watch. Just look at how music streaming is working out: Record labels have found out that this new model is going to make way less money and are doing everything they can to slow the process down.
You can expect the same thing to happen with movies because, well, it's basic math: Streaming services are cheaper, so there's less revenue coming in. And companies aren't going to peacefully downsize, since we live in a society where everything must get bigger all the time. What we're saying is that we're probably gonna end up with something as bloated and terrible as television was -- or even worse.
"Fuck it, we're tired of keeping up with technology. It's only Punch and Judy shows from here on out, people."
You can read J.F. Sargent' sci-fi novel The Wreck of the Joanna Ng online for free. You can also find him on Twitter.