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  • James Kunovski

Physical Media in the Age of Streaming?

For the majority of 21st-century audiences there may be too many streaming services. In a study by data analytics firm UTA IQ, a survey of over six thousand customers found that seventy percent agree. Streaming has reached its own saturation point. So, where do these woes come from? A lot of it boils down to programs switching services due to their respective rights. This has been perpetuated by studios breaking away from heavy hitters and monopolising their own content. Disney+ had its American launch earlier this month; HBO Max, built around Warner Media’s property will launch next May. Peacock, by NBCUniversal will facilitate the myriad of its own shows by next July. People don’t take kindly to losing their favourite thing, and then having to pay more to get their favourite thing back. For American audiences, the soon-to-be removal of Netflix-licensed Friends for HBO Max and The Office for Peacock blew up the Twitter-sphere. It is likely in the near future that other studios will add their own service.

So, what do I propose? I think the key to getting back in touch with our favourite shows and removing the pressing mental link between our viewing and monthly subscriptions is a gradual return to physical media. Now, I don’t mean in a way that discards all streaming services and I don’t expect everyone to cancel all their subscriptions. Rather, I think it’s a positive change and a chance to reconnect with our catalogues.

Finding the right shop is likely to be the trickiest part of this step, but if you manage to find one, embrace the opportunity, and thank the owner. A quick browse and a mental snapshot to visit a certain show, even at a later date is satisfying in and of itself. The physicality of being able to interact with each title not only gives the film its own identity, but also makes us more responsible and careful viewers. It’s a move that’s comparable to online shoppers returning to stores to reclaim that spark lost in transition.

Then again, for most viewers, simply having every streaming service, or rotating different services at different times to balance funds is still a viable option. There’s a reason why studios open their own services. They are just that successful. Within its first day of service, Disney+ brought in ten million subscribers. It is likely HBO Max and Peacock will attract these types of numbers as well. Although, if you ever come across a copy of The Office that isn’t captured behind a screen, in a new light, maybe pick up it and give it a shot.


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