Happy Streaming Day

20 May 2022

Do you have a box set planned for National Streaming Day? This unofficial holiday on 20th May seems like the ideal opportunity to stock up on snacks, lay back on the sofa and set your remote to binge! Over recent years many of the leading streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and Apple TV, have used this day of celebration to offer customers some extra treats such as new shows or discounted offers.

You might argue that few of us need much encouragement to sit down and consume the latest blockbusting content. There can be little doubt that our adoption of streaming services, fuelled in no little part by so many people being trapped in their own homes during the global pandemic, is running at a steady Warp Factor 10.

It’s all a far cry from the time Blockbuster Video ruled the home entertainment industry – remember them? Showing my age, I most definitely do. There was a time when watching a Saturday night movie relied upon the best options the terrestrial channels had to offer (as long as you remembered to be in front of the TV at the right time), or you trekked down to the nearest Blockbuster Video store to rent your video.

This was a physical copy of the film on VHS which you had to physically go to the store to collect, take home, put in your video player and then enjoy. This is of course reliant on the fact that the limited copies available for the top films of the time were not already rented out, leaving you with no option but to pick a second favourite. You had 48 hours to watch the tired tape before being under strict instructions to rewind the tape before returning it to the Blockbuster store.

If you are younger than me and are struggling with this concept, catch a glimpse of the 2006 movie, The Holiday, when Iris and Miles tour the video store discussing movie music scores (with a cameo from Dustin Hoffman). Ironically, your best chance of seeing this classic film moment will be via a streaming service.

It’s widely reported that in 2000, the CEO of Blockbuster Video had the chance to buy Netflix for $50m, but struggled to hold back his cynicism as he laughed them out of the room. Netflix has a current value north of $250 billion.

This is in the context of the streaming giant’s share price recently falling by close to 20% following the disclosure that it had lost 200,000 subscribers globally during the first quarter of 2022. So is this an early warning that the decision makers at Netflix should learn from the lessons of history and be prepared for a changing future? While it is highly unlikely that Netflix will follow Blockbuster Video to become an extinct dinosaur of commerce, the way consumers across the world stream media over the next ten years is likely to see yet more significant change.

It will be very interesting to see what the landscape of National Streaming Day will look like in 2032.