Entertainment goes on demand


by A.C. Hall

Shifts in technology sometimes come swiftly and sometimes they come so slowly that people don’t even realize the shift happened.  With the move towards subscription based on demand services, it’s something that has been a slow migration.  Popularized by Netflix, this is an entertainment delivery system that’s now heading towards a critical mass as more and more major companies launch their own on demand services.    

Netflix is a service most people are accustomed to by now, but anyone who still views them as a DVD by mail company are fooling themselves.  Sure, that’s still something Netflix offers, but it’s faded into being just a sliver of their overall business.  Estimates show that around 40 million people subscribe to Netflix, but only around 6 million still subscribe to the DVD by mail half of the business.  That leaves a good 34 million people who now get their TV shows and movies from Netflix over their streaming online service which is available on just about every platform imaginable as well as the traditional computer.

Netflix is thriving with the move towards subscription On Demand and other entertainment giants have taken notice.  2014 saw the launch of the WWE Network as professional wrestling titan Vince McMahon threw his company into the on demand ring.  After decades of making their money via selling monthly Pay Per Views, World Wrestling Entertainment now devotes itself to trying to get their audience to sign up for the WWE Network.  Sure, fans can still pay around $50 for the monthly PPV, or they can get the PPV and thousands of hours of wrestling content on the WWE Network for just $10 a month.

McMahon is handling this latest business venture with all the bravado and chest beating as one would expect, thumbing his nose at the PPV providers who have sustained his billion dollar wrestling company for decades.  Not surprisingly, PPV purchases have fallen by nearly seventy five percent as the WWE Network has picked up going on one million subscribers over its first year.  In addition to getting the monthly PPV, the network features a deep archive of old wrestling PPV’s and shows as well as an ever growing stable of original shows and specials.

Then there’s HBO, who have always been known as a premium cable network.  According to the Wall Street Journal, more people subscribe to Netflix online streaming than subscribe to HBO.  That’s a market HBO will no longer leave untapped in 2015 as they launch their own on demand subscription streaming service.  No longer will audiences need to get the premium package with their cable or satellite provider in order to watch HBO movies and award winning original shows.  Now they’ll be able to subscribe to HBO directly and watch it via online streaming.

One avenue of entertainment that’s also embraced the on demand subscription model is music.  Millions of avid music lovers have a subscription to at least one of the most popular on demand music services such as Spotify and Pandora.  Add these onto the growing number of television and film on demand subscription services and it raises one major question.  How much On Demand can someone afford?

Many people still subscribe to at least basic cable or satellite television, and maintaining internet is necessary to access on demand subscription services.  As more and more specialty on demand services release the temptation will be to sign up, but for the average person there’s only so much room in the budget for entertainment related expenses.  This means that one or two on demand services can be heavenly for viewers, but as more and more of these services release viewers might find themselves hitting on demand overload.

Netflix has reigned supreme over the on demand subscription arena for some time now, but 2015 will see more and more challengers to their throne appear.  As a small segment of the entertainment industry, on demand subscription services are a big business, but now the true test begins for this entertainment option as the market will try to adjust to more and more options, all fighting it out for the same group of customers.