Has video streaming placed DVDs upstream without a paddle?

In August of 1981, MTV made its debut with The Buggle’s hit song, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” This moment changed the music scene and pop culture tremendously—some would say forever. Over 30 years since, another transformation is taking place in the entertainment industry in which conventional video viewing is slowly but surely dying in the wake of online video streaming. According to information released by Netflix, Netflix viewers watched over 2 billion hours within 3 months which equates to about 3,000 lifetimes worth of hours spent watching streamed film. With society becoming increasingly more mobile, compact, and “smart,” it is almost inevitable that online streaming will become the standard means with which we’ll watch our favorite television shows and movies.

Traditional Television Meets Online TV

A whole slew of “web TV shows” are coming out in 2012.

  • Tom Hanks has agreed to be a part of the Yahoo, exclusively online, post-apocalyptic, cartoon series Electric City, which must have cost a pretty penny.
  • Steven Van Zandt of The Sopranos is starring in Lilyhammer, a Netflix original.
  • Kevin Spacey will star in another Netflix original, House of Cards, purchased for a suspected $100 million.

Netfilx has also announced the exclusive release of the favorite and sorely missed Arrested Development in 2013. YouTube is upping its content by shelling out 100 million for original, TV-esque programming and Hulu is also jumping into the game with a new original political mockumentary, Battleground.

Television remains the main median for entertainment in America, with Nielsen listing 290 million viewers and 130 average monthly hours for each viewer. Streaming isn’t too far behind with 145 million viewers, but only about 2-10 hours of viewing per month. The use of headlining actors and large budgets shows how web-TV is moving into a bigger world and gives a glimpse of what the future may hold. If companies like YouTube and Hulu are offering large offers for big name shows and stars, who knows what competition will arise between networks and online streaming sites.

DVD Rental Market Takes a Hit

Warner Brothers, in early January, signed a deal with Redbox, Blockbuster, and Netflix that extends the waiting period before these rental companies are allowed to rent newly released DVDs from 28 days to 56 days. This is supposed to help the profit of the studio’s DVD and Blu-Ray sells. HBO, a Time Warner branch, announced they would stop selling DVDs to Netflix altogether.

While cutting down on DVD rentals, WB expanded its contract with streaming sites, especially Netflix. Streaming sites should receive films quicker and in better quality. With Netflix becoming more and more of a streaming site, this deal is also to Netflix’s benefit. It means that Netflix will be able to stream newer movies at a higher quality while still letting subscribers pay $7.99 a month, all-you-can-view. As for Blockbuster and Redbox, rentals are expected to decrease considerably.

Netflix Includes UK and Ireland

Netflix has recently expanded its frontier to across the pond to include residents of the UK and Ireland.  These residents are now able to stream some of their favorite movies and programs for £5.99 in the UK and €6.99 in Ireland. Right now, residents are given a free, 1 month trial. All the features available in the US will also be available in the UK and Ireland. Netflix quickly claimed content ground by signing deals with the BBC, Miramax, and Lionsgate. Amazon.co.uk’s LoveFilm fortified its claim to the Isle’s streaming market by signing extensive deals with ITV and the BBC. What’s even more exciting, the Netflix expansion could make even more content from Ireland and UK available in the US. This move is a sign of the wide acceptance of streaming technology.

With the streaming crowd quickly gaining followers, it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. The tremendous viewing hours on Netflix boosted its stock considerably, pushing it up 11% and increasing the share price to $94.38 on January 16.

As more and more advertising companies notice how much more lucrative and effective it is to reach the masses through the web, the more certain the future of streaming seems to be. If streaming is where the money is going, it’s a good sign that’s where the entertainment industry is headed also.