USA Today, on July 28, reports that we don’t need a crystal ball to see that many new ways to watch movies and television are on the horizon. Many recent developments reveal viewers have more and more to watch of tv and movies, as well as in more and more ways. Traditional ways to pay for television shows and movies are especially being upstaged by various forms of streaming technologies and companies. As the Huff Post has reported on July 28, smartphones are also changing and challenging as they constantly develop. Now parents have the increasing difficulty of monitoring the media their children view on smartphones.
Technology and media companies are also increasingly confronted with the challenges of fast changing developments. FilmOn, for example, has been in a legal fight to stream local TV broadcasts. FilmOn, (with its more than 600 TV channels, podcasts, 50 audio channels), provides subscribers a software desktop presence to enable them to watch U.S. and international broadcasts. Last week, a U.S. District Court ruled that a compulsory license should be available to legally stream local broadcasts. The ruling is under appeal; but if it is upheld, local TV stations can be streamed by services, such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Mitch Stoltz, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has said that this “… will destroy … existing cable and satellite systems’ comfortable position as the only ones who can transmit broadcast TV for a fee,” he said. Further, Stoltz has explained that much TV-watching comes over the Internet today that includes: series programs, reality shows, movies, and even sports. Most of tv has been available through Internet-based subscription services, except for broadcast TV. He has stated that this is because many broadcast stations, whose signals go out over the public airwaves, have fought to keep their signals off of the Internet.
Movies first released to theaters are going to DVDs and streaming faster and faster today. Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man” that was released to theaters on July 17th and is still playing in wide distribution including IMAX 3D theaters, is already being sold by retailers in pre-orders on the Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD editions of the film. It can be noted also that because most blockbuster releases get released early to Digital HD, movies like “Ant-Man” may be available in digital format at least two weeks before the Blu-ray (BD)and DVD release.
At the first of this year, Amazon, an online shopping giant, has announced plans to deliver movies produced for theaters across the U.S. and offer them on its Prime video service within two months of their release. Further, Amazon, like Netflix, has recently announced plans to produce its own feature films that will be released first in movie theaters and then weeks later streamed to customers. Amazon Studios and its competitor, online giant Netflix, with their roots as technology firms, both provide streaming services and both have started with original television series. But, unlike Netflix, which is producing movies that will be released simultaneously online and in theaters, Amazon plans at this point to have its feature films follow the traditions of Hollywood’s delayed release into homes. Both online firms have become strong rivals to Hollywood studios and television networks, as they have grown in subscriptions and investors to fund new projects.
Amazon Studios, which launched in 2010, has said it will begin production of films this year with budgets of $5 million to $25 million per project. Their plan involves, after theatrical release, providing the films exclusively to Amazon Prime Instant Video customers one to two months later.
“We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films,” said Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios. “Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.” Further, Price has said that Amazon viewers will see the films much sooner than the typical cycle of releases to DVDs, cable on-demand and then to streaming service providers.
These developments present challenges to theaters. It has been unclear whether theaters will show Amazon’s films, especially with their limited windows for exclusive showings in theaters. Theater owners have also criticized Netflix’s plans to release films simultaneously online and in Imax theaters.
These ongoing developments also present challenges to parents, guardians, and those in loco parentis who are diligent to supervise what the youth in their care see, especially as it is delivered via the internet and most critically over smart phones.