Will 2014 be the year of streaming media? - Prime Time Review - Explorer

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Will 2014 be the year of streaming media?


Just as the big cable networks have long known, the greatest difficulty in keeping viewers is keeping them interested. This is a struggle we as the viewing public have watched for years as countless shows, pilots, and new ideas are presented for a month or so and then sent down the drain. Every couple of months, you can read an article about the shows being cancelled in the upcoming year. To combat this constant turn-over of programming, it is necessary to find new, original programs that are able to both retain current viewers as well as draw more in. 

This need for new, creative projects has made its way to the online media arena in the past few years. With the paramount growth of online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, people’s ability to watch through the entirety of their favorite programming a thing of ease. As the long list in your queue begins to lessen, you seek out new programs. The struggle then becomes to find things to keep you going, to keep hitting that “Next Episode” button over and over until the time has shifted steadily into the a.m. Those with a hankering for online streaming media will find 2014 to be quite an exciting year indeed. 

Both of the major online media streaming services, Netflix and Hulu, have released their respective lineups for the year as well as the announcement of some expanded services.

Hulu and its premium service Hulu plus are ringing in the year with the announcement of over 5 million subscribing users to the Hulu plus service, a great accomplishment. Riding on the coat tails of a $5 million in revenue year for the company, Hulu has announced that they have plans to double their current original programming. With around 20 original shows currently in development, this is quite an impressive boast from a company that has historically faced some financial issues as well as the loss of some key personnel. Hulu may not have the ridiculous subscription numbers of Netflix, but the service does boast streaming support for seven of the top ten searched for shows on the internet. With multiple BBC collaborations as well as plans to expand their own original content, the little brother Hulu may soon find its head amongst the top dog. 

The 2014 LG CES Press Conference also brought some important news from Netflix concerning their plans for the new year. One of the most exciting announcements is that the hit show House of Cards will be coming back for its second season exclusively on Netflix. More importantly, Netflix will be offering its hit show in the Ultra-HD settings of 4K video. Those with Ultra-HD capable TVs will not have long to wait to utilize the high quality settings on some masterful programming. Netflix also released a full trailer for the second season of the show, as if fans weren’t already hyped up enough. 

While not nearly as impressive an operation as Hulu or Netflix, Amazon Prime is another streaming service looking to gain some steam in the coming year. The service, utilizing Amazon Instant Video, allows Amazon users access to their own library of licensed television as well as some original programming. While the catalogue for Amazon Prime is miniscule when compared to Hulu and Netflix, they were able to snag some important licenses last year. Amazon Prime is the exclusive streaming location for CBS’ hit drama “Under the Dome,” and also picked up the rights to stream “The L Word.”

While the horizons seem to brighten for the world of online streaming, the old stalwart ways of DVD rental are continuing to waste away. With Blockbuster announcing the closure of their final stores, Redbox stands alone as the easy DVD rental option around town. Soon enough we may see Redbox follow down the same path as its predecessor, Blockbuster.  

Rejoice moviegoers and TV addicts, for the world only seems to only be getting better for you. The new year is being rung in with some exciting announcements that will be sure to bring many a new subscriber to the computer or television for streaming entertainment, and keep those of us already trapped well within the grips of our self imposed lethargy.