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We may be entering the next age of entertainment. Entertainment began as live shows. Then came radio, then motion pictures, then television, and now the Internet. Until recently, the Internet has been a place for micro-entertainment. Short articles, single pictures, short video clips; it was a place for people to escape one minute, or 140 characters at a time. People flock to the Internet because, besides your monthly bill, virtually all of the fun to be had can be free. If numbers indicate anything, it seems that people are staying home from the theaters, and ignoring primetime TV, so that they can be entertained on their own time, and from their own choosing. However, the Internet is not for micro-entertainment anymore.
The biggest challengers to the seemingly undeniable world of television have emerged in the past couple years as Hulu and Netflix. Not too long ago, no one could have imagined anything challenging TV as the primary form of home entertainment. Executives have ignored the Internet too long though, and the battle has begun. Ever since the institution of instant watch, Netflix has grown into a household name. The ability to stream TV shows and movies over the Internet, on your own time, has led many people to fall in love with convenience. Television and movie production were not intimidated though, because all of the content had to come from them first. But they may not be standing on such solid ground anymore; original content is here.
At the beginning of February, Netflix launched their first original show, ‘Lilyhammer’. ‘Lilyhammer’ is a comedy-drama starring Steven Van Zandt of ‘Sopranos’, as a New York gangster trying to start a new life in Lilyhammer, Norway. All eight episodes of ‘Lilyhammer’ were made available from the start, appealing to the new DVR culture, which prefers to watch entire seasons at once. Many have called ‘Lilyhammer’ a great move for Netflix, while others say the show isn’t TV quality. Either way, it is a step in a new direction of programming that skips TV all together.
Netflix is not free however; you have to subscribe to be able to view their new show. Hulu, on the other hand, is completely free and they have also stepped into the ‘original programming’ arena. On February 14, Hulu launched ‘Battleground’, a political drama-comedy in the fake documentary style of ‘The Office’. Hulu took a different approach than Netflix though; they are releasing a new episode every Tuesday, which is more in line with traditional TV. ‘Battleground’ has received mixed reviews as well, but seems to be gathering a bigger fan base than ‘Lilyhammer’. Technically, ‘Battleground’ is not Hulu’s first original series; they have been airing the documentary show ‘A Day in the Life’, which is approaching its second season, but ‘Battleground’ does stand as their first scripted series.
The emergence and apparent success of these original programs can only make people curious of what will happen next. Youtube is beginning to feature channels that will presumably be putting out original content, and most networks stream their shows on their websites after the TV airdate. Will networks start having streaming only shows? Will Netflix and Hulu start producing more shows? With the lightning speed growth of technology, these steps can only make you wonder; what’s next?