Is this Web Video War? (Part One)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 and is filed under Latest News.

The lives of film buffs and couch potatoes took an interesting turn this week with the UK launch of Netflix.

 

This British version of the fairly popular US streaming service promises unlimited film and TV episode rentals for just £5.99 a month. The collection can be viewed on any Internet connected device, from ‘smart’ TVs and PC/Mac right through to smartphones and games consoles.

 

At the time of writing Netflix has what can only be described as an ‘eclectic’ mix of content. Whilst they have signed licensing deals with the BBC and MGM, Lionsgate and Miramax, many more Hollywood studios have passed them by thus far. This of course affects the amount of top class films on offer – although I’m sure you’ll find something to tickle your fancy in their selection, which runs into the thousands.

 

New Era for Digital Content

 

This new generation of streaming services (Netflix will rival LoveFilm and Blockbuster for market supremacy, but more of that later) ensures continuous improvement in a fledgling industry. Smartphones, Androids, Tablets – these are all driving the sea-change in how we all consume digital content and web video, and the trends are set to continue well into 2012 and beyond if the latest raft of devices scheduled for release are anything to go by.

 

The concept of watching your favourite film or TV show whilst commuting to and from work on the bus or train is a relatively new one, but is sure to appeal to many (although probably not to other passengers on such transportation vessels). As someone who can readily remember popping down to the local corner shop to browse the latest titles on the classic ‘swivelling rack’, the concept of streaming is mind blowing, and the possibilities for the technology endless.

 

Alf’s Swivelling VHS Rack. Those were the days.

 

Broadband Issues

 

There are of course certain problems that services like Netflix pose, particularly on the Broadband infrastructure of the local area. On a micro level – as anyone who works in an office will tell you – when somebody is streaming video content it has an impact on the Internet performance of a network. Multiply that by thousands of people in your village/town/city, and you get an understanding of the limitations of Netflix and others.

 

The popularity of the BBC’s iPlayer is a case in point. So beware – if Netflix does take off, and you want to use the web at a peak time, you may be in for a frustrating evening.

 

So what about the Competition?

 

It’s worth remembering that Netflix is merely a big fish in a small but ever expanding pond. There are other pretenders to their throne – and we’ll take a look at them in Part Two…