Netflix: The Savior of Living Room Entertainment?

Dec 18, 2010
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Netflix: The Savior of Living Room Entertainment?

As someone that loves watching television shows and movies, I’ve been a subscriber to Netflix’s streaming service since the beginning. At that point, it wasn’t the most robust service, but I didn’t really care -- it delivered enough entertainment value to make me happy.

But 2010 has been a great year for Netflix’s streaming service. Aside from adding every season of major hits, like Family Guy and The Office, the company’s offering has also added a slew of movies that make it one of the most compelling services in the space.

It also helps that the service is available on a variety of devices, ranging from the Apple TV to the Logitech Revue, and several HDTVs. Those products also include content from other streaming providers.

Simply put, streaming is huge nowadays. But as the space continues to grow, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: studios are unwilling to play nice.

The Apple TV’s content offering is a prime example of that. If you want to get content from NBC, for example, you’re out of luck. In fact, the device most notably features shows from ABC and Disney.

Google TV-based devices also suffer from studio negativity towards streaming content. Although they have the ability to connect to the Web from their device, Google TV users aren’t allowed to access television network content for free from the Web. That means Hulu is out, along with content on many individual network Web sites.

Similar limitations are placed on several other devices. No matter what product a consumer is using, they can’t access all the content they really want unless they hook a computer up to their television. And in many cases, that simply isn’t convenient.

To some, the studios’ reaction to the growth of streaming might be understandable. After all, they pay a lot to get their shows on the air, and they should be fairly compensated. But studios are taking it a bit too far. And they’re looking worse with every 28-day-delay deal they ink with providers.

However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve lost all hope. Quite the contrary, I think there is a way around this problem. And I think it will be due to Netflix’s own efforts.

Nowadays, as the company’s CEO Reed Hastings has pointed out, Netflix is a streaming company first, and a by-mail rental company second. Because of that, Netflix will be investing heavily in the streaming space going forward.

Over time, I think it will be that investment, along with Netflix’s ability to attract so many customers, that will bring the movie studios and television networks around. They might not like the idea of it, but Netflix is quickly showing studios that the market is changing. And they can either join in or look like a bully, which will only continue to hurt their revenue.

I should note that Vudu, Amazon, and other streaming providers are helping to improve streaming for all of us, but when it’s all said and done, it will be Netflix that will either make or break our living room entertainment experience.

Netflix has the user base, cash, and vision that’s required to save living room entertainment for those of us who don’t want to toe the studio line. And although we’ll all be forced to continue to pay for the right to do what we want, it’s a fee worth paying.


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