In the past few years our options for accessing entertainment have grown drastically. This has changed the way entertainment industries function. Conventional stores like Blockbuster, Borders, and the iconic Virgin Megastore in Times Square are disappearing as people head to their computers to access their entertainment. Online stores give buyers more options at a cheaper rate because there are fewer overhead costs and many companies are taking this route. We are seeing that, in general, this increase in options has driven prices down in most entertainment industries.
Independent and chain music stores have been affected by the increased access to music the Internet provides and many have had to close. Instead of buying full albums, sites like Amazon MP3 and iTunes allow people to buy single songs for mere pocket change. Musicians have followed suit by selling or giving away their songs on their websites. Music has gotten so affordable that we have started to see the price of concert tickets increase so the record industry can turn a profit.
Online music streaming has also become very popular. Sites such as Pandora and Grooveshark are free and let people customized their stations with less commercials than traditional radio stations. If you chose to upgrade, you can get your music with no commercial interruptions. Many people use these services to test out music prior to buying it and sometimes choose them in place of purchasing music. Most Internet connected gadgets can access these services anywhere at any time.
The face of books has changed in the past couple 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 device. The prices of these digital books are usually significantly cheaper and the online stores never sell out.
Rather then pay a large monthly fee for satellite or cable TV, many people use services like Netflix and Hulu to stream television shows and movies. The competition in the TV industry to keep viewers and gain ad revenue has pushed many networks to make recently aired episodes available from their website and on handheld Internet enabled devices such as a smartphone.
Instant access to all of our entertainment needs via the Internet has greatly decreased the cost we used to have to pay for these services. Recently, however, it’s been big news that Netflix has raised their prices and segmented their service offering. There is a lot of speculation about whether this will help or hinder them. Their success with this change over the next few months will most likely determine if other online entertainment services will follow suit. Only time will tell.