Thursday, January 28, 2021
NEW PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON STREAMING IN LIGHT OF NBC-UNIVERSAL'S RECENT MOVES.
I've been thinking a lot about this blogpost I wrote around the time I first started this blog, way back in 2011. It was literally "Streaming Movies Sucks...", and was more-or-less a repudiation against the notion that streaming was the future of cinema and DVDs, or some kind of physical hardware wouldn't die out and would remain, if not the dominant form of at-home viewing media for movies, a major part of it. You can read it at the link below if you're curious:
Frankly, while I do think many of the points in the article still essential hold up and remain essentially part of my perspective worldview; most of the article feels like it was outdated for its time, and now feels like an attempt by me, a kid who was literally brought up in a family-owned video store chain, trying to express wish fulfillment on recapturing and keeping alive much of the past. (All that said, I might be the last holdout, but in many cases I still prefer DVDs.)
Obviously it's outdated, and nowadays if I'm not streaming Youtube, I'm streaming most anything else. It's also, generally better then it used to be, although admittedly, I'm still more then capable of challenging the internet and seeking out the one thing I can't find on streaming, and often can't find on DVD either. My Netflix queue has really gotten out-of-control. The main reason I'm bringing this article up is that, the main objective that I have always taken, is that, when it comes to media, I want whatever the best and most succinct option is for anybody and everybody to see whatever they could possibly want to see, whenever they want to see, and preferably, for as little as humanly possible. To me, ideally, streaming would be more attune to a library; everything that can be available, is clearly available, and all under the same roof, and it's all essentially, at most a very low price, unless you're overdue, in which case, you owe, maybe a dime. (And I'm not sure that last part is something I fully endorse.) Obviously, that didn't happen with streaming; instead, what I feared/knew would happen, happened; film is a business moreso then an art, and now, there's channels for half the companies that make the media, much less distributing it, competing with the distributors, who are also now making media to compete with other media producers. If I wanna watch everything I absolutely want, instead of clicking on one thing and searching through a computer catalog (That's what search engines for libraries used ot be called; I'm old, I remember card catalogs.) I have to get subscriptions to Netflix, both streaming and DVDs-through-mail, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO MAX, CBS All-Access, which will become Paramount soon, Disney+, Apple+, Criterion Channel, Showtime+, Peacock, ABC, ESPN, Discovery Plus, CNN and every other cable channel on my Roku, plus like, two hundred other assorted streaming channels, in order to get, most of what I actually want to see. (Not to mention I don't know I want to see until I actually see it. People forget that part too often.)
As great as streaming is overall, it's not now, nor has ever been ideal in my view. It doesn't provide the ability for the most people to watch anything they possibly could watch, plus anything they might not know they want to watch until they see it, right at their fingertips, without ultimately hitting and killing them in their pocketbooks. That's why I still will claim that when all is said and all is done, DVDs are better, just make sure there's always a hard copy available and all of streaming's faults seem moot to me.
That said, streaming, is good, and frankly, it's getting better. I'm not naturally a Capitalist, but I was thinking about how good streaming is now, and I was thinking about that, strangely because of a couple moves that NBC-Universal did this week. Their streaming service, Peacock and they have a couple things I like. For one, it's the best way to watch MSNBC live on a Roku. For another, they have NBCSN, or at least they do for now. They announced that they're getting rid of their sports network. They're not selling it, it's just ending as a channel.
Frankly, even though it mostly only had Pro Football Talk, as well as it's only major sporting events signed up being the NHL, Premiere League Soccer, NASCAR and the one that really killed them this year, the Olympics, I like their formatting of most of their shows and preferred them to Fox Sports Net and CBS Sports, and they were miles ahead of Stadium, which frankly barely counts as a sports network, and I thought given the right placement and motivation behind it, could've competed with ESPN, but let's be honest for a minute, that was never happening. I'm sad about that, and it's not like sports are going away; NBC's moving much of the NBCSN programming to channels like USA, which has a longer history of airing high-profile sporting events then people realize, and will survive on Peacock in a slightly variant form. Then, Peacock, NBC-U's streaming service, speaking of "Sporting Events", sorta, bought the WWE Network, World Wrestling Entertainment's streaming channel just a few days later.
I've talked occasionally about being a wrestling fan over the years; I still keep an eye on it from afar, but I haven't followed it intensely since like, I don't know, fifteen or so years at lease, and when WWE were gracious enough to make some of their older Pay-Per-Views free this year at the begining of the pandemic, I watched a lot of the PPVs that I missed when I was a kid during the Monday Night Wars and couldn't afford back then. It was nice, mindless nostalgia and I got to see a lot of the matches that I always wanted to see and heard about but didn't get around to until now. (Shrugs) Most of it was from '96, and that wasn't the greatest year for the WWE, and frankly, as I suspected, Pay-Per-View wrestling shows was then and probably still is usually an overrated buy, and my suspicions were mostly confirmed. But, Peacock's free essentially; this will be a premiere service they offer, so I'd have to pay for most of it, but that's still nice add. In fact, I like how a lot of nice additions are made to the major streaming services. Amazon is probably the best with this, but Roku picked up Quibi recently, which you know, everybody has rightfully made fun of Quibi's failure, but you know, that shouldn't effect the products they produced.
Essentially, we're coming along to the peak of streaming in this current model. It's not gonna be everything, but inevitably, a lot of movies, TV shows and anything else are going to be on fewer and fewer streaming channels as they pick up whatever they can. And things might move from one to another; I was confused and baffled by everybody getting so upset at "The Office" moving from Netflix to Peacock a few weeks back, because was a better network for them and it was cheaper. It was literally free; plus it's the network that "The Office" originally aired on, NBC, and frankly, as I pointed out on a recent blogpost, Peacock lacked a surpring amount of NBC's better and most important shows, and anything that alleviates that problem; I'm in favor of. The link to that blog is below:
Also, I should point out that, it makes a lot of sense that the WWE would be on Peacock; they have a long history with NBC, mostly through Dick Ebersol's longtime friendship with Vince McMahon, so yeah, why not. (It's a better partner then with Disney, which was the rumor for awhile, and their association with FOX is fairly new and incomplete at the moment, so yeah, WWE Network on Peacock, good idea overall.) Other streaming options are picking up other things too. If I wanted to watch an old "MTS3K", I can go on Pluto right now, or Shout Network or a few other easily accessible streaming sites. The streaming sites that don't survive, eventually get deleted, which sucks, but some of the ones that are halfway decent and have legitimate material worth saving, hopefully they end up somewhere with less stuff falling into the crevices of of time and dying out. On top of availability, preservation is also important, and streaming can help with that as well. Like I said, I think DVDs and other physical media, but streaming can certainly help in preservation a lot too. You never know.
In essence, Peacock's recent moves represent both of these extremes the preserving of classic old material like the WWE, and ending something that's not competitive like NBCSN, but still preserving and keeping the aspects of the network through other means. There's always gonna be a new competitor in the market as long as there's a market, but as long as there is a market, it's ultimately good if the few swallow up and absorbs the others; it's good for the viewer and the audience. It's a rare case that happens and there are indeed issues with it, I don't like how HBO Max somehow doesn't have every "Looney Tunes" or even every "South Park" of all things... (Seriously how did HBO of all fucking networks became the channel that edits everything?! I can't believe this is the channel of "Real Sex". [I know, it's not all HBO's fault, a lot of it is just, the problematic issue resounding from the fact that, film is a business....]) but you know what, especially as this pandemic has revealed, streaming is good, and is getting better all the time.
I regret that childish declaration now that "Streaming Movies Sucks"; not that I'm not still standing behind many of the observations I made of the time, but it just feels so shockingly short-sighted from me now.
Posted by David Baruffi at 8:11 PM