For the past few years, I have been talking about how our television viewing habits are being changed by the internet and how soon most of our viewing choices will be made "on demand." Providers of digital narrative viewing entertainment will be able to reap great rewards from the system, even as it shatters some of the older models. The studios, big and small, will likely benefit by the changes and affiliate stations will suffer as people move away from "command" television of the kind that local affiliates provide, and move toward "on demand" television where the viewer is empowered to watch shows directly from the provider. The content provider and the distributor system will change, but likely not be completely eliminated as trusted "content hubs" will make finding new content easier for viewers. The overall shift will likely empower creators and viewers and lessen the power of distributors -- though the need for effective marketers will be significant.
I began imagining this future before anyone offered streaming video content, but after reading The Future of the Mass Audience in a political science class as an undergrad. Since I started talking about the topic -- which was a topic for a couple of early Geekerati podcasts -- we have seen the rise of Hulu, Netflix streaming, television stations streaming their own shows, FunnyorDie!, and many DiY Web Series of varying quality -- some quite excellent.
Now one of the leaders in the field is moving forward toward the purely on demand future. It is one thing for television networks to provide their content online after it has aired through traditional channels, it is quite another for a streaming provider to purchase and produce a high end show strictly for streaming. That provider is Netflix and they are looking into the possibility of providing two upcoming on demand televisions shows in the near future. The first is House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and the second is an unnamed show by the Kenji Kohan (the creator of "Weeds).
Change is in the wind, and that change looks very interesting indeed.