Will Netflix Ever Overtake Traditional Cinemas?

Over the last few years, nobody can deny the fact that online streaming services – and especially Netflix – have revolutionized the way we enjoy our movies. Netflix offers convenience, value and a huge library of films and shows that can be watched around the clock across a variety of platforms. Yet while Hollywood studios are understandably nervous at the rapid progress made by the new kid on the block, in terms of cold hard cash cinema is still ahead – just. So what does the future have in store? Will Netflix ever take over from traditional cinemas? The answer is almost definitely, but by no means does this necessarily sound the death knell for the cinema experience.

Occasion Versus Convenience

Let’s begin by qualifying the key difference between the two services. Going to the movies remains for most people an occasion to get out of the house and enjoy new releases on the big screen. It is a special occasion, and while people may not take as many trips to the theatre as they used to, the fact remains that early screenings of blockbuster movies still sell out fast.

Netflix, on the other hand, is a much more ‘disposable’ way of enjoying a movie. You can just turn it off if not enjoying one in favor of trying an alternative. Likewise, movies can be paused, rewound, watched with or without subtitles and set to a preferred volume. So while it is easy to dismiss Netflix as being a less ‘special’ event it is certainly more personalizable – also with the advantage of not having to put up with other people!

For now, it is reasonable to expect that the overwhelming majority of Netflix subscribers still attend the cinema. Whether or not movie viewing habits are going to lean more towards Netflix or remain roughly the same over the next decade remains to be seen. Either way, it is difficult to see cinema making a sudden comeback and regaining a significant market lead.


Netflix Have Broken Cinema’s Hold On Quality

Just a few years ago when Netflix announced that they were going to focus on original programming, creating movies and shows exclusive to their network, not many pundits were convinced. After all, making quality movies to Hollywood production standards is incredibly expensive. However, Netflix has since shown not only that they can attract star names and crew, but also spin a profit thanks to having an enormous subscriber base.

This has totally changed the landscape and now customers look forward to new Netflix releases as much – if not even more – as they do from Hollywood studios. Let’s face it – Hollywood has been a bit dull in recent years; over-reliant on rehashed superhero movies, ill-advised sequels and a simple lack of imagination. Netflix has instead invested in genuinely original content across a broad spectrum of genres. Sure there’s the occasional dud, but on the whole, their quality seems to be only getting better.


Netflix Is Great Value

In regards to the bottom line, cinema tickets continue to become more expensive while Netflix subscriptions remain doggedly affordable. For the cost of less than a single movie ticket, you can enjoy a month of standard two-screen Netflix, which is why for many people and families a Netflix subscription is little short of being a household essential. A lifetime of movies and shows for peanuts is also one of the reasons why online piracy (until recently Hollywood’s unbeatable bogeyman) is gradually declining.

One downside to Netflix is that they cannot offer some popular shows produced by their rivals (mainly Amazon and HBO), but considering how low priced their service is this doesn’t seem to have put many people off so far. Compared to cable packages it’s astonishingly good value – and if the rumors are true that the company may be looking to start their own internet service – then it could even see the death of old-fashioned TV too.


What Does The Future Hold?

Netflix is here to stay and while for most movie fans it is pretty much an essential service to subscribe to, there is always going to be a place for traditional cinemas. There are already signs that the cinema industry is trying to broaden their scope, with a clear trend in boutique specialist cinemas springing up offering better food, drinks, and comfort to discerning (and deep-pocketed) movie fans. The problem is that such establishments do not have the same footfall as the old megaplexes – and therefore generate fewer ticket receipts to the studios.

What is certainly the case is that Netflix has gone from being a young upstart scrambling about for the rights to host Hollywood movies, to now being in a position of considerable negotiating strength. While the cinema experience will always be around (at least for the foreseeable future) Netflix is likely soon going to be the number one way people watch movies before too long.

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