Streaming is Killing The Series and Movies We Love

Written – January 2024

Think back to a time only about a decade ago, when we still visited the high street to buy music, television series, and movies on CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray.  Back then it was very common for people to say “streaming will never kill these formats we I don’t want to rent my content, I want to own it.”  But streaming did indeed take over, and now a huge percentage of overall viewing time in the home is spent with one or more of these online services.

This is a good thing for a great many people as it’s very convenient, you can get access to the content you love, and you can also be introduced to content you might otherwise have missed out on.  But what happens when it all goes wrong, because sadly that’s exactly what’s happening and there’s very little we can do to stop it.

The problem comes down to the cost of running these streaming services as we’ve all learned in the last couple of years that these services spend billions of dollars every year on new content, and with so much competition for subscribers it’s a very expensive business.  Then though there’s the technology side to this, as all this content needs to be stored on cloud servers.  This is because it all needs to be available all of the time, and thus must be hosted on live servers in each territory it’s available in.

This is hugely expensive for streaming services, so they’ve begun looking at the content that’s not viewed, or not viewed very often.  You might think this is content people don’t want to watch.  One individual piece of content can still be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, but that would make only 0.01% of total streamed content.  When this is scaled up to whats being removed we’re looking at tens or even hundreds of thousands of shows, specials, concerts, documentaries and movies, that are collectively watched and loved by millions of people.

The streaming services are consequently removing this content to cut costs.  If it’s not hosted it’s not costing anything.  This is very annoying for the people that want to watch that content, but they have an alternative, buy that content on DVD or Blu-Ray.  Though this option is also going away.

As more and more people are streaming TV and movies into their homes, the sales of physical DVD and Blu-Ray media are falling.  Many studios, including big names such as Disney, have already  announced they will no longer be releasing new content on physical media, and that for many studios, production of existing content stopped some time ago.

Picture then what the situation will be a few years from now, and then ten years from now.  We are rapidly heading into a world where content we want to watch, that might have only been made a few years ago is not available on streaming services, but is also only available as physical media in select second-hand stores or simply isn’t available to buy in physical form at all.

This can only lead to one outcome, where only the newest and the most mainstream content will be available for any of us to watch, and anything else such as older and standard definition, non-widescreen TV shows and documentaries won’t be available anywhere, and perhaps will never be available again.

Some people have seen this problem coming and are exploring various options, such as government or library run streaming schemes for the content the streaming services no longer want to host, but whether any of these ideas will come to fruition is anybody’s guess as, let’s face it, they’ll be expensive and have to be funded somehow, probably from the public purse.  With so many other pressures on public finances these days, such a service would be difficult to justify.  This is even if the streaming services that own that content will be prepared to license it for viewing.

For now, my best advice is for the existing TV series and movies you love, if you can buy the DVD or Blu-Ray disks online or in stores then do so while you still can, because the future for this content doesn’t look bright at all.