The world of online media is huge. There are more ways to watch TV shows and movies online than there are to watch them in the real world. Of course, most of these sites aren’t actually legal. There are only a handful of (popular) sites that let you watch as much as you want. The big ones are Netflix and Hulu. Each of the two has a slightly different purpose but both are very similar.
Netflix has a massive catalogue of old movies and TV shows to stream to just about any device that has a screen. In recent months, Netflix announced they were separating their streaming and DVD services and thus raising the total cost to their online and offline services.
The way Netflix originally had envisioned their service working was that people would give them money and in return they would give their customers DVDs. As an added bonus, customers could watch some content online while they waited for their DVD. Patrons saw this the other way around. Everyone looked at it as if they were paying $8 a month for unlimited streaming content and DVDs.
This led Netflix to be one the largest sources for online traffic. Now, to make a long story short, Netflix realized this and shifted their services accordingly. Now you pay for streaming and for DVDs separately, at $8 a month each. This is still an amazing deal no matter how you look at it. But Netflix is a known for quantity. They add new content occasionally, but are not updated as often as Hulu.
Hulu lets you stream new TV shows (and some movies too) without paying a dime. You do have to suffer through a few 30 second ads at regular intervals, though. Hulu also offers a paid option, Hulu+. Hulu+ allows you to watch your favorite TV shows on your TV (via a connected device like a PS3) or on your mobile device. You also get the full catalogue of the previous seasons and some movies. The only problem is that it’s kind of a lie.
A surprising number of shows aren’t actually available to view anywhere but from a browser. Then there’s the second big hit: availability. The sad trend with TV shows is to delay when the episode is available online. Some shows are a week or two after the original air date while others are a whole month. Then there are some that, apart from the first few episodes, aren’t available to watch until the whole season is over. All of this is after paying the $8 a month. Oh, and there are still ads (just like real TV).
So where is this all headed? All of the restrictions networks place on their media only leads to one thing: piracy. Generally, people are good; people are willing to pay for the stuff they use. Of course, this all falls apart when it’s actually harder to give someone your money to get content than it is to just download everything. This is a problem because it causes a never-ending cycle, and it started with DVDs.
Whenever you get a DVD you have to sit through FBI warnings, and previews and then some more warnings about how bad it is to steal movies.
It’s the same problem with online streaming. If I have to wait a month, watch the show at my computer, with regular annoying ads, then I might as well download the show minutes after it airs, put it on a USB drive and watch it on my TV via my PS3.
The music and video game industry have both gone through the same hurdle. Music is coming back around with services like iTunes and Spotify. Services that make giving companies your money easy. The video game industry is still a bit lost; with its low point in having games require long license keys and a connection to the Internet each time they are started up. The movie and TV industry, however, is desperate to keep its old model. For some reason networks don’t care about the Internet. If a show doesn’t make it big on cable television, then it’s no good.
They’re really going to be missing something when our generation begins getting their own places and have to decide what we’re paying for. We’re going to be putting more money into faster upload and downloads speeds, and if we can’t put that bandwidth to streaming content legally then it’s going to go elsewhere.