top of page
  • Writer's pictureOre Ige

Is streaming good or bad for show business?

Updated: Mar 14




I love streaming, but it has kinda fucked up the entertainment industry. Movies aren’t as profitable as they used to be, industry professionals are finding it harder to support themselves, & most major studios now have their own streaming service. But, streaming’s impact isn’t all bad. There are some positives that should be considered when trying to answer the question: Is streaming good or bad for show business?.




Streaming has a much bigger audience than broadcast/cable TV. While box office revenue & broadcast/cable tv viewership are in decline,

Netflix’s profits went up 6.67% with 260 million global subscribers, & that’s probably because steaming is cheaper & more convenient.


A bigger audience means a higher chance of success for the show/movie & the talent behind it, which is especially helpful for international talent and up-and-comers. The international success of Shows like Squid Game & Money Heist demonstrate the benefits to the industry of streaming’s global reach.




By switching from traditional residual payments based on a show’s/movie's success, to one-off upfront payments, streaming has made it harder for a lot of industry pros to support themselves between gigs. Squid Game’s creator only made money from the initial sale of the show to Netflix, but nothing for the show’s resounding success. Greed no doubt plays a role, but the main issue is that in a subscription format, it’s much harder to determine which specific shows are responsible for maintaining/attracting new subscribers (high viewership don’t necessarily mean new subscribers & vice versa).


Streaming’s effect on residual pay was a big theme in last year’s DGA & SAG strikes. The idea that you could create something as globally successful & well received as Squid Game & not get paid for its success is not going to help the industry attract new talent.




Streaming’s bottomless appetite for content has led to more diverse, non-traditional stories being told. Usually, if studio execs don’t see much profit in a movie idea, they simply won’t make it, but since Streaming services profit comes from keeping you subscribed, they’re more likely to take a chance on a different kind of story if they think it’ll inspire enough curiosity to maintain/increase subscribers.


Netflix’s Spaceman (‘24) is essentially an almost 2-hour drama featuring Adam Sandler in a serious, dramatic role, getting a therapy session from a giant alien that resembles a spider… and I loved it! I found it moving & profound, and I love when Sandler flexes his “serious actor” muscle.

It’s harder to imagine that movie being released in cinemas by a big studio, especially in our current risk-averse climate of remakes & sequels. These kinds of non-traditional stories help bring a variety of talent into the industry, keeping things diverse & unique, preventing things from all feeling the same (which is already kind of an issue).





financial pressure from investors is negatively influencing the art. Great shows (like Mindhunter) are cancelled, ( potentially hurting the careers of the talent involved, especially the up & comers, aka the future of the industry) subscription prices go up with no improvement to the service, & Hollywood has become incredibly risk averse, avoiding original ideas and instead focusing on sequels, prequels and spin-offs.


Thanks to financial pressure, the industry is also under threat from AI potentially taking work away from industry pros (A clear concern for actors given its inclusion in their recent strike discussions) as streaming services scramble to spend less & make more at the industry’s expense.




Good shows/movies don’t always connect immediately, and in the past, that meant that several good movies came & went without getting the attention they deserved, and any promising talent went unnoticed. Streaming offers a second chance to find /boost their audience. For example, Suits was recently in the news for racking up a substantial amount of hours viewed on Netflix & Peacock last year, despite the show finishing in 2019!


Streaming makes it easier & more convenient to watch things, and this makes audiences more likely to tune in on streaming than in theatres. in this way, streaming acts as a means of ensuring that at least some people check out a certain movie/show. While streaming views don't always translate to recouping any financial losses from the theatrical run, they can help create new financial opportunities or at least showcase talent in a way that helps them secure more work.




Prioritizing subscriptions means individual shows become less important & the focus becomes increasing the quantity of content coming out to maintain/attract new subscribers. As the supply increases, quality drops, and & before you know it the term “Netflix movie” basically means a pretty average-shitty movie, and half the shows they release get cancelled and left on cliff-hangers.


This lack of quality control & lack of respect for TV/film from streaming companies gets passed on to the viewers who end up ignoring new releases or treating them like background music. Viewers not valuing or getting excited about new shows/movies, or worse, feeling like they’ll be bad by default, is not good for the industry.




Like with most things in life, streaming has its positives and negatives. That said, it does need to continue to find a suitable pay structure for industry talent, adhere to a higher standard of content in general, and learn how to balance the creative side of things with the corporate, all these areas have significant effects on the wider industry as a whole. As someone who enjoys streaming, I don’t want to see it go anywhere, but I would like to see it co-exist more peacefully with the more traditional aspects of show business.


127 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page