The 15 Most Important Technologies of the Last 15 Years – #9: Streaming Video

For most of the history of in-home video technology, we were at the mercy of broadcast television providers. We could only watch what they wanted us to see when they wanted us to see it. The VCR and then DVD started to break this stranglehold as we could watch movies and TV shows when we wanted, but we had to purchase or rent them, which meant we were still beholden to what our local video store had available. Even if we wanted to record shows on VCRs, we were still limited to making sure we set our recording at the exact time they were broadcast – and if we missed our recording time we were pretty much out of luck. The Internet created an opportunity for online DVD rentals made popular by Netflix, but we still wanted more. Then the DVR allowed us to more easily record TV broadcasts so watching what we wanted when we wanted become more commonplace. This combination of market forces and the advancement of technology led to the development of streaming video services, which has quickly changed the landscape of television forever.

Streaming video services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others first pioneered the way by providing programming available from traditional broadcast channels. However in the last few years streaming services have started to create their own original award-winning programming. Increasingly providers such as HBO and many others now offer their programming through an online app, bypassing traditional delivery services such as cable and satellite TV. In our mobile society, it is no stretch to say that streaming has quickly become the favorite way a lot of people watch TV shows and movies. Even the concept of “watching TV” is going by the wayside as we can watch video on our mobile devices anywhere we want. In large part from the impact of streaming video, the largest video rental company at the time, BlockBuster, closed down all their corporate stores in 2013. It is no stretch to say that streaming video will continue to redefine how video productions are created and distributed well into the foreseeable future.

How much streaming video do you watch today as compared to traditional broadcast TV? Do you even “watch TV” as much as you used to or do you watch video more on mobile devices? Comment below and let me know how streaming has changed your video consumption habits.