In the past few years, our options for accessing entertainment have grown drastically. This increased access has changed the way these industries function. Brick and mortar stores like Blockbuster, Borders, and even the iconic Virgin Megastore in Times Square are disappearing as people head online to get their entertainment. Many companies are going this route because there are fewer overhead costs associated with running a business primarily online. The benefit for the customer is that there are now more and cheaper options available. In general, with increased options, prices are driven down across the board.
Streaming and the Music Industry
It wasn’t always easy to buy single songs from a new music album. If the song you wanted wasn’t released as a single, you would have to buy the whole album. Thanks to sites like iTunes and Amazon MP3, people can now buy any single song from a record. Musicians also allow people to purchase their songs on their websites and many choose to give their songs away. Many independent and chain music stores have been forced to close due to these new options for purchasing music. The industry as a whole has changed as well and record labels have had to raise concert ticket and merchandise prices in order to turn a profit.
Another way that people are accessing music more easily is from streaming radio sites like Pandora. These sites allow for free customizable radio with limited commercials. Many people use this type of service as their main household music source in place of buying music from a brick and mortar shop or even from an online source.
Instant Access to Books
The face of books has changed in the past couple of years as well. Thanks to eBooks, people can buy digital books directly from sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble and have them instantly downloaded onto their handheld devices. The prices of these digital books are usually significantly cheaper and the online stores never sell out.
Cutting the Cord Trend
Rather than pay hefty monthly prices for satellite or cable TV, many people opt to stream television and movies from an online source like Netflix or Hulu. The competition in the TV industry has pushed network channels to upload their most recently aired episodes onto their websites.
The way we access our entertainment has changed drastically thanks to the Internet. Television, books, and music found on the Internet are much more cost-effective, but this may change. Recently Netflix altered its model of offering both online streaming and physical DVD rentals and also raised its prices. Many articles have been written speculating whether this will hurt or help their business plan. As we see physical stores disappear and online stores become our only option, we may see more sites follow in the model pioneered by Netflix. We will just have to wait and see.