TechKNOW Tomorrow – The Evolution of Video Streaming Services

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Betamax, VHS, DVD, Blu Ray, and 4K Blu Ray – what do these things have in common? Home video. Since the ’70s, you didn’t need to see a movie in theatres in order to experience it; you could wait for it to be released and then watch it from the comfort of your own home. It was the dawn of video rental chains like Blockbuster and Jumbo Video, which flourished throughout the ’90s and early 2000s. The thought of streaming movies seemed impossible at the time.

Everything changed in 2005 with the rise of streaming video giant YouTube. Its original purpose was to serve as a personal video experience that anyone could participate in, not for films or television shows. However, the seed was already planted, and the idea of streaming videos was about to change the industry as a whole.

By 2008, it was the beginning of the end for physical media AND cable TV packages. Internet speeds picked up with the invention of fibre optic broadband, which “used light rather than electricity meaning that its cables, technically, [had] no limit“. Netflix, previously an online DVD rental business, rebranded in 2007 by offering the world’s first movie and television show streaming service (not including Hong Kong’s iTV). In 2008, Netflix had the technology it needed to stream without limitations.

By 2011, several services like Amazon Instant Video and Hulu were also competing for dominance in the streaming market. As “Netflix’s relationships with several studios and media publishers had become strained” by 2012 (in part due to competition), Netflix knew it had to offer something that its rivals couldn’t – original content. Netflix Originals such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black demonstrated the potential of offering exclusive content to attract more subscribers.

Today, cable television is dying, and physical media such as Blu Ray discs are slowly being discontinued. Samsung, for example, had already ceased production on their Blu Ray players two years ago.

The future is here, with streaming services appearing on the market for what will likely be at least another decade. Just as it was back in the early 2000s with the unpredictability of internet speeds, the next evolution in technology for the TV and film industry is nearly impossible to foresee.

To hazard a guess, you may start finding combined subscription services or partnerships between the major players in the video streaming market. Just as cable TV services offer numerous channels for a single price, you may start seeing streaming subscription services bundles at a higher price. For example, maybe Netflix and HBO will offer a package that includes both services. Amazon and Disney could be another possibility.

Some Current Video Streaming Services Available in Canada

With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose which streaming service is best for you. Also, while you may be interested in multiple subscriptions, many of them aren’t available in Canada (e.g., Hulu). The following list of Canadian streaming services should help clear up any confusion. Links to the websites for more information will be provided as well.

NOTE: Film releases still circulating in theatres will likely cost extra on these platforms. All prices are in Canadian dollars (CAD).

  1. Netflix: The most popular streaming service for a reason, Netflix not only has a multitude of fan-favourite TV series and movies, but also a host of original/exclusive programs like Stranger Things, Orange Is the New Black, and Peaky Blinders. Plans start as low as $9.99 a month.
  2. Crave TV: This is another popular streaming service in Canada. Crave has many HBO/exclusive series such as Sex and the City, Game of Thrones, and The Handmaid’s Tale that are impossible to get on other services. Plans start as low as $9.99 a month.
  3. Amazon Prime Video: This one is great for online shoppers. The service is included with Amazon Prime’s one-day shipping method and includes original movies and shows like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Modern Love, American Gods, and The Boys. If you’re interested in more shows or movies from Starz, BBC Earth, or The History Channel, there are optional add-ons that will cost extra. Prime Video costs $7.99 a month or $79.00 annually.
  4. Apple TV+: While the catalogue of exclusives is limited at the moment, Apple TV+ features some notable programs such as For All Mankind, Dickinson, Mythic Quest, and Defending Jacob. The service will set you back $5.99 a month.
  5. Disney+: New to the scene, Disney+ offers a variety of content primarily aimed towards children and teenagers. Notable titles include Star Wars Episode V, Inside Out, Beauty and the Beast, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Thanks to content created by their subsidiaries (e.g., FX or 20th Century Fox/Studios), content curated and developed for adults is also available. Disney+ costs $11.99 a month or $119.99 a year.
  6. Shudder: A service directed towards horror and thriller movie fans, Shudder has a massive collection of classic and modern films that may scratch that itch. More recently, they’ve been producing a couple of exclusive shows such as Creepshow, A Discovery of Witches, and The Last Drive-in With Joe Bob Briggs. Shudder can be yours for $5.99 a month or $56.99 a year.
  7. CBC Gem: This might be a good choice if you want to support a service with Canadian, European, or Asian content. Besides keeping up to date on the news across Canada, you can also support local TV series such as Pretty Hard Cases, Schitt’s Creek, and Workin’ Moms. Foreign hits like Luther and Das Boot are also included in your subscription, which you can purchase for $4.99 a month or watch for FREE with advertisements.

. . .

At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

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