It is an understatement to say that there are a lot of streaming services. HBO Max was released last May, and NBC just dropped Peacock this past week. I agree that there are too many streaming services. While each streaming service aims for a particular demographic, I do find many of these services quite unnecessary. However, I believe that streaming services can be quite beneficial for both promoting creativity and exposing new films to people.
To begin, let’s talk about exactly how streaming services promote creativity. Since there is a wide market of streaming services, they have to stand out in order to survive. Why would I sign up for Amazon Prime if I have Netflix? And vice-versa. One of the reasons why Netflix has been greenlighting so many scripts is to stand out. Maybe you want to sign up for Netflix because of Stranger Things or maybe it is because you want to watch The Irishman. In the second quarter of 2018, Netflix lost 123,000 subscribers, which was the first time since 2011 that they reported a loss. However, when Stranger Things Season 3 was released, it added 520,000 new accounts for the next quarter. It is clear that when streaming services like Netflix and others promote and create new original content, it is quite beneficial for both the platform and the consumers. It should also be stated that Netflix greenlights new projects, not just to attract customers, but to fill their declining catalog. Many shows that were popular on Netflix, like Friends, have been disappearing and moving to other streaming services like HBO Max. Netflix is forced to create new original content in order to survive in this market.
Furthermore, another reason why streaming services promote creativity is that they are able to finance many projects that major studios have said no to. Martin Scorsese pitched The Irishman, which was nominated for ten academy awards, to many studios; however, many rejected the project. The film eventually received support from Paramount, but they later dropped the project. Paramount couldn’t afford the project anymore as the film’s cost was rapidly increasing; however, Netflix was able to support it. Without Netflix, who knows what would have happened to the film. It was understandable for Paramount to drop the project. The Irishman runs at three hours and twenty-nine minutes and not many people would pay to sit in a film for that long, even if it is directed by Scorsese. Furthermore, given the fact that the film’s budget was about 150 million dollars plus the extra cost needed for advertisement. Also, not to mention that Scorsese’s last film, Silence, did not make its money back, there was a strong chance Paramount would not have turned a profit if they continued production.
Lastly, many streaming services are providing access to a catalog of hard-to-discover films. The Criterion Channel hosts a large catalog of award-winning international and indie films. There are also many free ad-based streaming services that host many great films. The Hunt (2012) was a Danish film that received great reviews and accolades from all over the world. I always wanted to watch it but couldn’t find it on any of my subscriptions. However, Tubi, an ad-based service, had it. After I finished watching The Hunt, I watched another Danish film on Tubi called The Royal Affair. A couple of weeks later, I wanted to watch the original Murder on the Orient Express, and the only place I could watch it was on Pluto, another ad-based service (editor note: Pluto no longer hosts the film). The fact that these ad-based services exist and hosts many niche films that I want to watch is amazing. I don’t care that there are occasional ad-breaks, I’m just glad that I was able to watch these films. While many people may dislike streaming services as they feel it’s more proper to watch films in theaters, I love the fact that streaming services can both finance films, that no studio wants, and can host a wide range of hard-to-discover films.