It’s 2017. The future seems to be now. Netflix kicked off the streaming revolution back in 2007 with the introduction of internet movie streaming. The DVD service that delivered movies and TV shows to your door announced they would allow anyone with an internet connection to watch movies without having the physical disc with them.
That’s Crazy Talk, Right?
Everyone who already had a Netflix account didn’t know what to think of it. Could you imagine?
This Streaming Service Is Part Of Our Everyday Life.
Netflix has 86 million logging on monthly. The streaming company didn’t know what they had created and how this would blow up to be the revolution it is today. Hulu came afterwards but had a different business plan. Hulu had more current content that released weekly along with the shows they had on their site, while Netflix would offer full seasons at a time for their users to “binge watch.” Most of the time Netflix had shows that were a year behind what was on live TV during the week, but it was cheaper to pay $4.99 a month for Netflix rather than the costly cable that was beginning to rise.
The company was founded in 1997 but didn’t reach 1 million subscribers until 2003. The company partnered with Best Buy to gain traction; they finally did. Netflix really came onto the market in 2007 when they offered the streaming service, which is what they are known for nowadays.
For a millennial like me who was born in 1990, it’s almost impossible to think about a world without streaming services; especially Netflix. I can’t think of a time where I didn’t come home and turn Netflix on to pass to time. From crappy B Horror movies, to Oscar nominated films, even to watching The Office or binging The Flash recently with my wife, you can literally watch whatever you want at this point in time on Netflix.
But It Wasn’t Always That Easy Was It?
Seeing as how this whole streaming thing is relatively new in the scheme of the 4 billion year old world, I’d say things are going pretty good. I remember a time when there were only certain titles Netflix would allow on console streaming services. Remember the “this title is not available on this device” pop up on your console? I remember like it was yesterday. At that point in time, computers were not nearly as powerful as they are now and trying to stream a video on my terribly oversized Windows Laptop was excruciatingly painful. The constant buffering, the terrible picture, and the internet connection that would barely support 720p; everything about this was destined to fail right?
Eventually internet speeds started to “speed” up and the pinnacle was reached; 100mbps. In 200o broadband internet was invented. This allowed a person to surf the web and talk on the phone at the same time; what a time to be alive! Online gaming was easier, movies could stream faster, and emailed pictures could be downloaded in seconds not minutes. I remember playing my first online game and believing this was just a phase. Halo 2 was and will probably always be my favorite online game, not just for the memories but for the game itself. It wasn’t Microsoft that allowed this to happen, it was the internet speeds. The connection to some server miles away allowed my friends and I to have the fun we had. In 2012 we reached another milestone, passing 3G into the dust and introduced 4G on the mobile market. Movies and TV shows on streaming services could be streamed across mobile networks.
All Good Things Must Have Flaws, Right?
The main issue with streaming is the dependency on the customers connection. Lately internet speeds have been touted as being 100mbps (megabits per second). Many gamers tout Comcast as being the best internet for gaming, specifically the best speeds for it. Besides Verizon Fios, which is around 300mbs, Comcast hovers around 100mbs. I have had both AT&T and Comcast, and by far the better experience has been with C0mcast. What made the biggest difference? The internet speed, hands down. While using AT&T, the shows and movies constantly buffered and the picture was contingent upon that speed. With Comcast, there was no buffering, no lag, and no pixilation of the picture.
This Is The Biggest Issue I See With Streaming.
Until internet speeds and the bandwidth can increase, it’s going to be hard for others to cut the cord completely. The other issue is the hard drive space for media. Currently, a 2TB hard drive is around $50 and can hold a lot of media, but can it hold enough to support the movie purchasing habits of some buyers? Who knows, with how fast cell phone technology advanced in the last decade, anything is possible.
That Leads Into Blu-Ray Format.
Blu-Ray movies were first introduced in the early 2000’s with what was called the ‘Blu-Ray Project.’ An engineering professor at UCSB partnered with Sony, and Pioneer in the background, started to make prototypes of this new project. The goal was get the best picture and sound quality possible without compromising on either one. TV Technology was not as advanced as it was today, plasma screens were the hit during this time. A few years later they renamed themselves the “Blu-Ray Disc Association.”
They Weren’t The Only Ones Trying Out New Technology.
During this time Toshiba was trying to get into the HD market buy creating the HD DVD. Imagine the ‘console war’ but in the home movie space. The issue with Blu-Ray technology was the difference in hardware. The Blu-Ray Disc needed a whole new laser to handle the information output for the updated resolution and sound quality. Companies who were asked to back the two different types of disc were what decided the war.
But Too Many Were Undecided.
The main issue of the ‘Disc War’ if you will, was the lack of big budget companies who did not commit to backing either form. The biggest mistake a company can make is to invest in the wrong product while watching the other blow up. Only until the PlayStation 3 was released did the battle stay pretty neutral. When the PS3 launched, bigger companies started to lean more towards the Blu-Ray player; most notably Best Buy and Netflix. The film industry also started to move towards using the Blu-Ray devices because of the information output it could handle. More information output, the better picture and sound quality while watching the film.
Houston, We Have A Problem.
The other issue with a giant library of discs is the space needed to contain all of them. While just one blu-ray case is just about a 1/2 inch 120 of those will be 60 inches. For reference, a person who is 5ft tall is 60 inches; so you’re essentially having to create 5 feet of space in order to keep your movies. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in California houses are not only expensive, but instead of being built wider, they’re building up. Town-Homes are now being built with 3 stories instead of two, houses are or loosing spacious basements, and most of all, space is becoming limited. I own about 25 Blu-Ray discs, mostly all Marvel and LOTR movies, but they’re in a box put away because I don’t have any other place to put them. Also, what about Steel Books and collectors editions, what will streaming services do about those? Many fans purchase the Blu-Ray’s specifically for those special editions to collect them.
So What’s The Verdict?
Every decision has it’s pros and cons, right? If you buy Blu-Ray’s, you need a lot of space to put them and also something capable of playing them. On the other hand, if you’re streaming movies the quality is dependent upon your internet connection and the service providers service being able to handle the traffic. The other option is to buy a bunch of hard drives and download your movies on to those, but hard drives have been known to fail; thus losing everything. In my personal opinion, I feel movies will move more towards the digital streaming choice. It’s also worth noting that many streaming services have their own original content. Some of which as won awards like Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle, or Netflix’s Stranger Things. As the streaming communities get bigger, so will the library of Origional Content.
Think about it, how many people do you know have a smart phone? How many of said persons do you now have Netflix or Hulu on their phones and download episodes of their shows on to their phones? This is why I believe Blu-Ray will eventually phase out. As much as I love the picture quality and the sound of a Blu-Ray, in this digital age it’s only a matter of time until 4K players become the norm. With Project Scorpio on the horizon from Microsoft, which is rumored to play games in native 4K, the Xbox One S, and PlayStation 4 Pro all having 4K players in them, it’s only a matter of time until those same Blu-Ray customers will want to watch movies in 4K, some without the disc.
What do you think? Are Blu-Ray’s eventually going to die out, or will they continue to live on in our digital age?