In my teens, a trip to the local Blockbuster was a Friday night ritual. Browsing the shelves at the video store was often more fun (and more time-consuming) than actually watching the movie I eventually picked out.
The experience of picking up the VHS and DVD slipcases, scrutinizing the blurbs on the back, and mentally cross-referencing the cast—there was a sense of adventure and mystery that's lost in this age of instant IMDb access and massive online review aggregators.
But while you might not be able to enjoy that kind of tactile browsing experience anymore (aside from the video section of your library), a study published earlier this month suggests the vast majority of top movies and TV shows are now available through online video on-demand (VOD) services.
Specifically, the report by KPMG found 94 percent of the top 808 films (defined by both popularity and critical acclaim) were available through streaming video services like Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon Prime. Similarly, 85 percent of the top 724 TV shows were available through the same platforms.
“A significant number of digital films and television shows are available through a growing variety of online VOD platforms,” said Sanjaya Krishna, principal of KPMG’s media practice, in a statement. “With the proliferation of connected devices and increased adoption of VOD services, we expect consumers will continue to have expanded choice and availability of video content.”
Up until recently, though, streaming film and TV services suffered from a lack of depth in content. Between the closing of the last Blockbusters and the rise of platforms that allowed streaming media to compete with cable, DVD, and Blu-ray, it was difficult to find many specific titles—especially classic films and TV shows.
Today, the availability of content is better than ever, and services like CanIStream.it help users find exactly what's available and where to get it. But there’s still the problem of revenue—a puzzle even streaming giants like Apple and Spotify are having trouble solving. Advertising just isn’t cutting it.
For VOD services, the licensing system that determines which films and TV shows find their way to your PC, mobile device, or set-top box is increasingly expensive, and it’s forcing streaming companies to invest in original programming to balance the books.
Despite these challenges, subscription and pay-per-view services are likely to triumph over ad-supported networks like Hulu—at least when it comes to film and TV.
The KPMG study found 81 percent of top TV shows were available through sell-through or pay-per-view services like iTunes, while 44 percent were through streaming VOD like Netflix. Only 5 percent of those shows were found on ad-supported on-demand services.
Revenue hiccups aside, it’s still safe to assume the future of video is streaming.