As my couch can attest, we now have an insane amount of streaming material available to us on a bevy of devices from countless sources. As an avid consumer subscribed to a handful of services and the owner of several devices, I am livin’ the dream in regards to entertainment accessibility. Not only do we have access to a plethora of classics, old family favorites, last night’s network episodes, but now streaming services have become mini-studios producing their own content made available to us the moment it’s released. On any given day, we are able to watch hours upon hours of brand new work made to be streamed and enjoyed as soon as possible. The conundrum for me is, will production quality start deteriorating to keep up with demand? And when will I stop being such a couch potato?
Quality of content of course varies from service to service and there are several manners in which you can access content, yet there are some that I’ve yet to test out so I cannot speak for everything that is out there. At the top of the production chain, in my opinion, are the behemoths that are Netflix and Amazon Studios, who are knocking out quality content left and right. Little by little they seem to be phasing out streaming work made by others, and inundating us with their original content. Now, due to the high demand, there has been an onslaught of content being pummeled at us. As a procrastinator, this is terrible for my responsibilities, however as a consumer, I’m stoked. From those services, I don’t have many qualms with their rate of production affecting quality. If anything, I feel that they’ve introduced me to so many films and shows from other countries and new voices that I would have missed out on back in the days where I just had basic cable and a blockbuster card.
Thanks to Netflix I spent my spring break giving all of Peaky Blinders a shot in two days, which then somehow led to the suggestion of Great British Bake Off and I got zero writing done. The instant gratification offered by these streaming services can be a danger to my productivity, but excellent customer service on their part. Some of my favorites from Netflix Originals include House of Cards, Jessica Jones, Master of None, the revival of Arrested Development for which I am ever so grateful, and many more. Some top caliber productions from Amazon include Transparent, The Man in High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, and The Dressmaker. These two streaming services are my go-to’s for movies and shows, then there’s Hulu which I use for network TV catch-up and the occasional Criterion Collection, while using HBO Go for Game of Thrones, Vice-Principals, Veep, and now Westworld.
Now as far as devices, I personally own a Roku and a Chromecast. The Roku allows for TV streaming through various apps and even offers games. The Chromecast allows you to “cast” anything from your phone or device to a TV, which I find useful if I want to quickly show a YouTube clip or video. Other devices include Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and whatever it is smart TV’s do, but I’ve never used any of these.
My inspiration for this topic was spending this week testing out a new app, PS Vue, which I can now say will definitely replace our cable and cost half as much (sorry AT&T). Another reason for that change is that we have become too spoiled with having a season at our hands all at once, I do not have the patience to wait a week for another episode. It seems a couple of us here at MovieFloss share the habit of watching re-runs of our favorites like Bob’s Burgers while we wait on the streams of our new shows. Cable just doesn’t cut it anymore, and to get around this I’ve had to pretend a show hasn’t begun airing, and watch it all on Hulu at the end of the season in one day. An additional benefit cable cannot recreate is the personalization of your streaming services based on your taste. You provide the company and studio with immediate feedback through ratings, and they provide you with a library attuned to you. As I mentioned, Netflix recently led me into wonderful The Great British Bake Off blackhole that I would have missed out on had I not rated a few cooking and British shows I love.
However, the real kicker in all of this for me as an artist is that this new era of production means more work for filmmakers. I feel that the advent of streaming helped create a promising environment not only for viewers, but for creators. Most of these companies began as a middleman to content, but have luckily evolved to include production. This has enabled so many up and coming artists from all over the world to get their work seen; globalization right from my couch. As much as I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the good old days of Friday nights at Blockbuster, there is obviously just no contest with what we now have at our fingertips. Who knows what would have happened had Blockbuster not passed on buying Netflix.
- Netflix: 5 stars for quality and amount of content and personalization
- Amazon Studios: 5 stars for diversity and creativity of content
- Hulu: 4 stars because commercials
- HBO GO: 5 stars quality of content
- PS Vue (through Roku): 3 stars