by Alexia Barrett
Humanity has developed greatly since the days of the Neanderthals, yet no age has seen development as rapid as the last millennia, which has brought revolutionary changes in how we consume media.
It is unlikely that Johann Gutenberg imagined the magnitude of the cultural impact he’d create when he invented the Printing Press, nor Marconi and Fessenden when they invented the radio, nor Philo Farnsworth when he brought us the television or Robert Kahn and Vincent Cerf when they changed our lives with the internet. Yet here we are, now in an era where we can consume any media we want with the touch of a button or the swipe of a keyboard from practically anywhere in the world.
Today, we live in a media market which has proliferated with television streaming services. 100 plus video-on-demand services currently exist. Hulu, Apple TV, Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime, are only a handful of the services currently dominating the market, and new services are being created every day. Take the new ‘Disney+’ (Disney Plus) subscription video on demand service, that was announced in 2018 and is set to be released in November of 2019, or the recent Time Warner Streaming service. Many large companies are now moving away from investing in traditional television and are converting to online television services, and it’s obvious why.
Average minutes of Internet usage compared to TV viewing
In the last ten years, we have seen a significant increase in people consuming content online compared to those consuming content on Television networks. Since 2017 there has been a gradual slight decrease in the time a daily consumer spends on Television whilst the Internet has seen a steady steep increase.
When Netflix was founded 22 years ago, technology had yet to develop enough to allow smooth streaming to be possible, but now, when high-resolution video can be viewed from a phone screen anywhere in the world, media consumption from the internet has never been easier. With the advent of the 5G era around the corner, which will allow for almost instantaneous download or streaming without delay, this will only become more common.
Forbes recently announced in their article “Is Netflix Really Worth More Than Disney Or Comcast?” that as of 2018, “[Netflix was] rewarded with a share price of $351.29 at market close on Friday. That's a market capitalization of $152.7 billion, just a hair above Disney's $152.3 billion, and well ahead of Comcast's $142.6 billion.”
Additionally, streaming services have more value for consumers than traditional television. Not only are they cheaper than certain networks or cable services but they offer a greater variety of content. Netflix is well known for spending a large amount of money on creating their own original series, in 2018 alone they spent $12.04 billion to produce 700 original series and movies, some which have become pop-culture phenomenons.
TV companies also see the advantage of Streaming Services and to benefit from it they have begun to offer bundle packages.
Bundle packages are shown
With television streaming services being a multi-billion-dollar industry and trends in consumer culture changing to favour them, it is no wonder that large companies such as Disney are starting their own streaming services. Every day more and more people subscribe to a streaming service and move their consumer journey to the internet.
Looking at our progressive journey from print, radio, television and then the internet, it’s shocking to see how quickly we’ve developed in such a short time. The age of streaming television doesn’t just bring with it a new way to consume media, it brings with it greater interconnectedness between nations, greater cultural globalisation and a homogenisation of humanity. It is unlikely that streaming television will lead to a global state; but just like print, the radio and television, it is bringing global communities closer together.
As of 2019, Netflix is operating in 190 countries
The way we consume media has undoubtedly changed in the last millennia and is unlikely to stop any time soon. One can only wonder where television streaming services will lead us next and where that next step will take humanity as well.
Editor's Note: A fascinating insight into the potential future for our media and television consumption beyond traditional forms. With the final point on the ‘homogenisation of humanity’, I would probe this perspective and ask whether Netflix or other streaming services will offer a reciprocal process of cultural media exchange or just a continued Americanisation of global culture. The concerns over this on a state level can already be seen with Netflix movies being banned from the famous Cannes film festival and with the European Union creating 30% ‘Made in Europe’ content quotas. From this we can already see the early signs of resistance to this process. How it develops in the years to come will be very interesting.