GigaOm broke the news on Friday that Amazon is seeking executives to help make its original programming plans a reality. Since last year, Amazon Studios has been awarding script writers and independent filmmakers for contributing content, and now it seems the online mega-retailer is gearing up to move to the distribution phase and compete with the likes of Netflix and YouTube on in-house digital entertainment.
All of these players are ultimately facing off against the mainstream film and television industries, and if the major networks and studios aren’t already shaking in their boots, they should be. According to the recent Deloitte’s State of the Media Democracy survey, 14 percent of Americans prefer to watch movies over a subscription internet streaming service while at home. Additionally, 20 percent have either already cancelled their paid television services or are planning to do so in the near future because they prefer to watch TV shows online. I imagine if we saw the numbers for Americans aged, say, 18-35, those percentages would be considerably higher, too.
Of course, the mainstream transition from traditional video mediums to online streaming and downloads isn’t going to happen overnight, but it seems inevitable. Obviously, that doesn’t mean everybody will chuck their TV sets and instead glue their eyes to tablets and laptops. Think about the rise of Apple TV and similar services. But it does mean a radical change in the way people think about the entertainment industry. The consolidation of video entertainment into online channels isn’t just making consumption more on-demand and personalized, it’s also opening the door to smaller and independent studios to get widespread distribution; consider Amazon’s millions of dollars in awards to home-grown artists for their scripts and test films.
This is an exciting trend, but there are still technological obstacles. Anyone who has streamed movies over Netflix knows that the sound and video resolution aren’t exactly Blu-ray quality. Plus, bandwidth strains are a problem even for giants like Netflix. But the people are speaking: they not only want more control over what they watch and when, they want to see creative and original content on new mediums. And so, if all goes well for the Amazons and the YouTubes, the new entertainment industry cometh.