Andrew Ryan considers the impact of Netflix on traditional television and cinema.
Television and cinema finds itself in a curious stage of transition in this current digital age. While there are more options in terms of content for audiences than ever before, there is a belief that TV and cinema is under threat from the evolution of internet options such as Netlfix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. However, what is the validity of these claims?
In 2016, the Deloitte Digital Democratic Survey (DDDS) was released. Within the survey were details with regard to mobile and television consumption in the US. According to the survey, 46% of people in America subscribe to some sort of streaming service such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and others.
This is no great surprise. After all, since its inception in 1997, Netflix claims to have garnered 87 million subscribers worldwide, which doesn’t include people who share accounts. Hulu, meanwhile, has 12 million subscribers, up from 9 million in 2015. Amazon Prime has 63 million members, however it is difficult to know just how many of these subscribers use their streaming service.
What this tells us is that streaming continues to grow. Netflix have committed to having 50% original content by 2019 which is exciting when you consider their track record (House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Narcos and many others). As for Hulu, while their rate of growth is down from 50% in 2014 to 2015, it is US-based rather than worldwide like Netflix is, so 12 million is still an impressive number.
The DDDS also revealed that, in America, 33% of people used other devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops/computers for TV shows/movies. As for specific demographics, 56% of people within the ages of 19-25 used other devices for TV shows/movies, the highest proportion. These figures are particularly revealing as it puts into context just how many people are using online services for television and movies. Especially when it comes to movies, there are a litany of illegal movie streaming sites for films available. This just goes to show just how powerful the internet has become in the modern era.
However, that is not to say that television is in an unhealthy place at the moment. After all, you need only look at the case of the first United States Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. According to Nielsen, 84 million people watched that debate stateside, a record for a presidential debate. That number of people watching what ultimately turned out to be a circus is incredible.
Not only that, but there are also networks which do not share their properties with Netflix. An example of such is HBO. Their hottest property, Game of Thrones, is not included on Netflix, and neither is any of their other properties. As a result of this, viewers can only see titles such as Game of Thrones on HBO or their service, HBO Now which has 800,000 paying users.
Speaking of networks that have their own online service, channels such as RTÉ, and BBC have their own unique online service to catch up on programming. As well as that is Sky Go, the online service for catch up provided by Sky. Every one of these services provides revenue and viewership for the networks which, ultimately, is what matters most.
As such, while streaming will continue to grow, TV has the need to adapt and evolve. How TV does that will determine what kind of future it has.
It is in the realm of cinema and the effect of streaming on that industry is a bit trickier to determine. As I have already mentioned, as the internet has grown, so has the number of illegal streaming options for films.
However, when it comes to financial intake, this doesn’t seem to have had the same impact as you would have expected. In 2015, global box office tallies hit $38 billion (34.5 billion euro) which is a record. This was helped by films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Jurassic World. What’s more, the record that it broke was $36.7 billion (33.3 billion euro) in 2014.
As for 2016, according to Box Office Mojo, there has been an intake of $20.341bn (18.47bn euro) at the global box office so far. That is sure to increase a plenty with the imminent releases of the likes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and many others.
It is quite easy to understand why global box office intakes continue to grow year-on-year. I was in a packed cinema watching The Force Awakens, and that audible cheer and general sense of atmosphere when the opening crawl began is far more satisfying than watching a film at home alone on a laptop.
The digital age has posed many challenges for television and cinema. As Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services continue to grow, television will need to adapt to keep up. As for movies, as long as people have money in their pockets, they seem to be willing to spend it on a nice day out to the local screen.