SCREAMING FOR STREAMING

It isn’t any surprise that steaming media is now part of the so-called “new normal” that’s been floating around over the past few weeks and months. Since the lockdowns have been coming in and going out (and coming back again), people have been more interested, if not totally desperate, to bind their time by taking advantage of obtaining media through their TV-type devices that a good part of domestic society has access to.

And what better way is through streaming media. Streaming content is very much like how one used to get a TV signal through an antenna or through a coax cable. Unlike an antenna where the signal comes from over-the-air means, and cable, where the signal comes from a…well…cable, streaming media is sent through a LAN cable connected to an electronic box known by its many brand names (Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Firestick, etc.) that’s connected to a TV monitor or through any device that connects to the ‘net that sports a video screen where one can obtain content whenever the user desire to view the media. No appointment is necessary! It’s available 24/7/365–depending on availability, of course!

And the media and its public has spoken! Recently, Hulu, one of the dozens of streaming portals that are out there, released a survey the company conducted called Unpacking the Streaming Experience, that broke down the groups that stream media (not necessarily Hulu per se, but it’s assumed that their portal was part of their research) based on age, financial status, and the reasons behind why these groups stream their content.

According to the survey that was taken in April of this year, around the time when lockdowns were at their most fierce, polling some 2500 individuals between the ages of 13 through 54 years and conducted through the association with Culture Co-op, their reports states that some 90% of those polled subscribe to at least one streaming portal and use said portal(s) for various reasons and purposes.

Broken down from the smallest collection to its majorities, the groups that the report found where people stream programming for their reasons start at “Curated Streaming”. These are folks that want to catch up with a feature and/or series title that’s current “hot” at the moment (such as Nexflix’s documentary series Tiger King) that would make ideal conversation from virtual “water cooler” places i.e. social media. People that are known as the “Gen Z”ers (from 25 years and younger), would likely fall into this tract.

Next up are the “Indulgent Streamers” (Around 21 percent) that will spend a day, week, or even the weekend burning through an entire season or collection of a series from its beginning to end. This group are also known as “binge watchers”. They tend to be somewhat older (how old…?) and tend to live alone.

Then there’s the “Classic Streamers”. (Shy of 25%) These are people that tune in at set times with family and/or friends as part of a regular routine. They don’t necessarily follow a standard fixed schedule such as Tuesday nights at 9:25 PM, but do so based on some formula time period. These folks are more likely to be involved in a domestic relationship (Married, etc) and are more well off financially.

At the 2/3rd rate comes the “lean back” viewers. They look at content to just relax or unwind, rather that viewing in full attention mode that could be seen to watching a sporting event (especially when their is a crucial point in a game or match), or when there is “breaking news” in progress.

And the leader of the pack are the “Therapeutic Streamers.” These are the TV fans who stream content as a method to decompress and possible lightly reflect, with a sense of nostalgia connected to it all. To give an example, let’s say somebody decided to watch and/or binge on the TV series Friends. Chances are that these viewers tuned in to this program when NBC ran it in the second half of the 1990’s through the middle part of the 2000s. It also caters to those that face what’s called a syndrome for nostalgia where one desires for a past they never experienced! Those currently in their 20’s (born in the 1990’s) that find Friends as one of their favorite TV series don’t necessarily recall the program when it was at its peak or popularity. They just watch the program because it features characters of their age (20’s), and the fact that these same characters are not tied down to hand held electronics, social media platforms, and other distractions of young adult modern life. (Demographically, Therapeutic Streamers are also the closest to the domestic population as a whole!)

So what does all of these facts and figures mean? Well, it means that people no longer have to rely upon the so-called legacy sources to watch media through TV sets and related devices. It also means that movie theaters, those places of business that’s been around since the turn of the 20th century, finally have met their match. Thanks to the closing of multiplexes and the fact that the movie “Summer Tentpole” season is already half over (over before it actually began), people might just want to be willing to view some kind of blockbuster hit by paying $20.00 or so for the privilege or seeing the title at home–far away from fellow obnoxious movie goers that disrupt the feature by talking and/or texting through the picture, as well as being gouged by paying $6.00 or more for a bucket of a $1.50’s worth of popcorn slopped with a greasy substance that looks and almost tastes like butter! (At least one can get unlimited refills of soda pop. But how many cups one can guzzle at a time just to get one’s money’s worth?) As to “independent” or “art house” features? They even play better as seen on a home screening device that at a traditional movie house!

So streaming, for its better or worse, is here to stay! Will streaming become the death knoll for traditional TV and/or for the movie theater industry as we know it? Maybe. Then again, these sources of communication has been placed on the chopping block before hand. When television came around in the second half of the 1940’s, it was the call to the end of movie houses. The theaters changed, but never went away. The same happened when cable TV was making the rounds in the latter part of the 1970‘s to the early 1980‘s. Did traditional over the air TV go away? It only changed when the TV signals went from analog to digital in the late 00‘s, and that had nothing to do with program content. The content itself of movies and/or TV shows may have changed, but that was only based on audience demand and personal viewing habits and tastes. These ideals just serve as another part of progress.

So as summer fades into autumn, we’ll keep notice on the programming that’s been missed. As for me, I’ll dip into my TV archive to view ABC’s coverage of the 1972 Summer Olympics from Munich. Jim McKay will serve as your host for multi-hour coverage (some live, other on tape delay) where the network would use to introduce the new 1972-73 TV season. And good news folks! The Brady Bunch will return for another season! Ditto for The Partridge Family! This is the place to be indeed!
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