My wife and I were lamenting the closing of the last three hundred Blockbuster brick-and-mortar stores today. Much of the reminiscing was spent romanticizing how much we missed actually going to the store and perusing the selections — sometimes winding up not finding anything we hadn’t seen or anxiously anticipating a new release. The discussion hit me sideways as I realized how this marks the end of yet another means of interacting with society. Slowly but surely, we are becoming less and less dependent upon actually having to leave our homes. The end of Blockbuster is not so much the end of an era, but another cold shoulder to social interaction, and another victory for network service providers.
Believe it or not, the end of Blockbuster, to me, is a bit frightening. Why? We have become a generation of media streamers. No more is the need for DVD or Blue Ray. Anyone longing for TV or movie entertainment can simply log on to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or any other streaming service and have your favorite movie or show streamed directly to your three thousand inch, nuclear-core television set which will then beam the stream directly into your soul.
Hey, I’m a big fan of the television. I watch a good number of television shows at the moment. So it’s not the continued numbing of the mind that concerns me. It’s the inevitable cost of losing the Blockbusters of the world.
Let me explain…
As we grow more and more dependent upon streaming media, we will further strain the network pipes coming into our homes. As we do that, the providers will have to upgrade to keep up with the demand. That upgrade isn’t going to come free. Oh no…the consumers will foot the bill of the Time Warner Cables having to upgrade their infrastructure. I also foresee caps and tiered plans being put in place.
You want to stream twenty movies a month? That’ll cost you X dollars. You want to stream 20 movies and 30 nights of television? That’ll cost you XX dollars per month. You see where I am going with this.
This is especially true when Net Neutrality is defeated. At that point, the ISPs and the big corporations will be able to charge whatever they want for you to be able to enjoy their services. When this bomb drops from the sky, you’ll find it nearly impossible to stream that quality entertainment without buffering issues and caps getting in the way of any sort of enjoyable experience.
I do enjoy streaming video. But I’m afraid that once everyone finally turns their backs on physical media, the strain that will be placed on the streaming infrastructure will wind up costing the consumer more than they are willing to pay; at which point, we’ll all go back to disks. A vicious multi-media circle.
Not unlike Lost.
How do we prevent this? We don’t. It’s, quite frankly, out of our hands. The only possible solution would be to opt for disks, when available. But as more and more people clog up that good ol’ information super highway…
Wait…we can’t really call it an “Information Super Highway” any longer because less and less of what people use the net for is “informative”. Let’s call it the “Infotainment Super Highway”.
Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes…
The more people clog up the network — especially with streaming media — the more it will cost them. As the prices sore, fewer people will use the resource. When fewer people are using, the prices will drop to attract users back.
Yet another vicious cycle.
All of this, because Blockbuster simply couldn’t make it work. Not that I’m blaming the ol’ Blue and Gold…but I do wish they would have been able to retain those brick and mortar stores. With them, there was even the slightest hope that big corporations wouldn’t put a further stranglehold on our dollar. Without them…well…things could get a bit clogged.