Saturday, April 30, 2016

The declining stream

The New York Times offers a conversation between A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis on streaming video and its threat to film exhibition, triggered by the recent announcement by Sean Parker (you know him as the Justin Timberlake character in "The Social Network".   Also of interest (linked within the Times piece) are David Bordwell's observations on how the new emphasis on streaming video helps  the film industry maintain its control on what people can see. For over thirty years, the home-video and cable tv industries have been feeding audiences a myth that theyve places the entire history of film within your reach when in reality they've always tried to gain more and more control. Today we're seeing fewer and narrower theatrical releases, while services like Netflix and Amazon are using bait and switch tactics to push consumers toward their own exclusive productions (Consume! Conform!), while allowing their current libraries to shrink,   Will streaming services follow the lead of cable networks and gradually reduce their offerings in order to cut costs and maximize profits? (Remember when American Movies Classics actually showed Classic American Movies?),  Read this report from about Netflix's dwindling selections for a glimpse of the future.
Granted, not all news is bad. While I tend to suspect that the only real achievement of the streaming revolution will be to line the pockets of our Internet providers,  I'm intrigued by the new announcement of Filmstruck, a reportedly inexpensive new streaming service combining the libraries of Criterion, Turner Classic Movies, Milestone, Flicker alley and others. Will it live up to its promise?  We'll find out in a few months.

No comments: