Thursday, May 2, 2013

It is ironic that the very first moving pictures were a series of still pictures flipped quickly through your hands as if you were shuffling a deck of cards. Now we can see full length new movies on our cell phones. It has been around 100 years since flip books were invented and we have evolved into watching films on the same small area again. Have watching movies come full circle?

Today everything is possible and it is just a matter of consumer choice when and where we wish to watch a movie. You can watch those big noisy epic movies like Star Wars on your I Phone but it does not mean you necessarily should. Some things are better off still seen in a large movie theater with a big sound system and nothing but screen to look at. What does matter is that you have the choice to watch it anywhere now.

Throughout the history of movies people went to the theater now the movies come to us . The film makers don’t even care that their epic 3D movie has been reduced to a 2 inch by 4 inch screen. Just watch the movie and pay up the royalty fees. Ultimately it all means more choices for more people. It has been the founding principle for Netflix. The company started in 1997 as a movie DVD mail service.
They will still send you a bright red envelope in the mail if you want but their business focus has changed to still be current and right now is for everyone to be able to get everything right there on the smart phone. Now most of their 27 Million and growing subscribers pay about 8 dollars a month to have unlimited movies or TV shows streamed directly to them. Right now Netflix is the biggest provider of video streaming to the consumer.

During peak Internet use hours, that is between 9 PM and 12 AM, yes the time of day when most people finally settle in after a hard day’s work, Netflix use accounts for 33% of all streaming traffic in north America according to Sandvine polling service. So, is that hurting the movie theater business? No says Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos (the guy who has led content acquisition since 2000) . He believes that after you see a film on your smart phone or computer you will then want to see it again on your big screen TV at home and then ultimately see it yet again for the big movie theater experience. Must I climax over a movie as my screens get bigger?
Ted Sarandos is the guy who buys what Netflix customers gets to see and that makes him one of the most important people in Hollywood. The company must be making a lot of money now. Their stock has gone through the roof in past years and they just made a deal with Disney paying more than $350 Million dollars a year to carry Disney movies on Netflix starting in 2016. This is a remarkable deal since Disney sues everyone and is very protective of all their products.

There is also a pricey deal with Dreamworks for a cartoon series based on the upcoming movie Turbo. Ted admits that he has some deal going on with every network now. There was a stumble for the company in 2011 when they decided to split the streaming video and DVD mail business company into two companies. The investors voted that idea down and subscribers left in droves. No one wanted to pay two separate fees for the services. It was a major blip in the otherwise great rise of the company. Netflix’s successes many believe is the reason Blockbuster is history
Netflix might have the last laugh in all this because the company makes money by adding subscribers and the best way to do that they figure is to give people something they can’t see anywhere else. So, now it is making it’s own shows . Yes, now Netflix is Hollywood too. They spent a reported $100 Million dollars to produce a series called House of Cards a political drama staring Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey.

Netflix released all 13 episodes of the series on Super bowl Sunday where viewers could see the entire series at once if they wanted to. So, If you are not into football and you wanted to see something new that you couldn’t get anywhere else, you can bet Netflix got a whole new load of new subscribers. Netflix was very happy that their show was being talked about just as much as the Superbowl.
Of course there must be competition so Amazon has it’s own rights to the series Downton Abby and shows it on their streaming service. It all means more shows and more movies on more devices for less money. Sometimes endless options make me want to seek few options just so that I don’t get all confused as to which one to choose. I say bring back the 3 TV stations and let me spend most of the time adjusting the rabbit ears. Somebody explain to the kids what I just said.






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