So what the hell am I talking about, is there a new religious disaster on the cards? No, for the record the first one never happened, and the chances of there being enough water on the planet for us all to be able to have a drink is seriously concerning, that’s a rant for another day.
Let me briefly take you back to the earliest days of the internet (I’m older than the internet btw). 1996 and Tim Berners-Lee gives the world HTML, we get dial-up, which for all you millennials means we had to share the house phone with our online hobbies… that’s right… NO WIFI!
If you were posh you had an ISDN2 line, which was much faster, the first websites were made and you could now send an electronic letter (its called an e-mail) to anyone else who had a Yahoo/Hotmail/AOL address. Then came the Goliath that is broadband, YouTube was born, online gaming became a reality and slowly but surely, streaming was now a thing.
In the early days we just had trailers on YouTube, and Match of the Day highlights that noobmaster69 had somehow copied to his PC. Then came Netflix, iPlayer, 4oD quickly followed by Sky Go and Amazon Prime, and now we can add BT Sports, Apple TV and Disney+ to that list. Basically you have access to a smorgasbord of movies, TV and music at your fingertips, and what’s more you can watch it on the train, in the car or while you are curling one out… brilliant… or is it?
Let’s look at the positives first. Entertainment galore, you have never had it so good, A-List celebs in million pound drama series, your favourite ‘universe’ expanded with TV series linking in with blockbuster movies. Your local watering hole of choice can stream every sporting event going, no need to pile round Big Dave’s house, not being able to see properly and leaving beer cans strewn across his lounge carpet. No, you can play pool, drink real pints and still be able to join in with jovial banter whilst not having your view obstructed… unless Big Dave sits right in front of you… moron!
So what are the negatives? Well the biggest problem is our health, rather than go for a walk, socialise, play a sport, read etc. we will search for a series to binge watch (yep me too), and whilst those of us of a certain vintage may be able to recognise this, what about the children, what are we teaching them? They already have a huge distraction in the form of the latest Playstation game they want, and again, the internet is the facilitator, they don’t have to sit around one TV and take a turn. The good old world wide web allows them to play Call of Duty, post a gamer selfie to Facebook, watch cat videos on YouTube whilst eating junk food… actually that’s just me, but you know what I mean.
Then of course there’s the financial concern, you can bet your life there will be a series or two on each of the services you want to watch, no way you will get Game of Thrones, The Mandalorain, Breaking Bad, Lost In Space, Goliath etc. all in one place. And it’s not just you, if you have a household of 4 or more with a couple of teenagers thrown into the mix, you better have deep pockets. People will justify it to themselves unfortunately, a friend of mine said ‘yeah, but it’s only another seven quid’, as he proudly announced he had signed up for Disney+, and that’s what the House of Mouse and all of the others want you to think, great marketing.
So what next? Will it stop? Well considering that one report I found suggests the global video streaming market will be worth nearly $700 billion by 2024, I doubt it.
This raises concerns as to the quality of future productions. Look at Freeview, hundreds of channels, but if you’re honest, do you watch more than about 8 of them? Re-runs of Top Gear, Big Bang Theory, endless hours of the Simpsons and Family Guy. And no I don’t want to watch a bunch of fisherman at work, even if you do call it ‘Deadliest Catch’, it’s not doing anything for me. I don’t care about Ben Fogle’s latest trip to Borneo in an attempt to be interesting, and please tell me who commissioned that train series with Michael Portillio, Jesus Christ BBC2, you’ve hit rock bottom and need to go to rehab…
The giants in the streaming industry will continue to peddle their wares at a premium, channels like NBC’s Peacock will provide an ad-supported version which will be free to most homes. Ultimately those who can’t afford half a dozen different channels will resort to dodgy streaming sites which infect their laptops with malware, or use Kodi on an Android box, or possibly even delve into the seedy world of torrents to get their fix.
Therein lies the dark heart of the matter, the addiction, I have a friend who already refers to KFC as ‘chicken crack’, and these streaming channels are the visual equivalent. You can get your hit of dopamine anytime, anywhere… for a price.
There’s nothing wrong with watching a good series or two, I’m not trying to demonise the world of entertainment, but with everyone after their piece of the pie, we risk turning populations into the fat immobile human refugees from Wall-E. So by all means consume your content, just don’t let it consume you, sometimes you don’t need to see how deep that rabbit hole is.
Anyway, enough of the sermon, my mate just WhatsApped me his Amazon Prime details… catch ya later… much later.