In the past few years our options for accessing entertainment have grown drastically. This has changed the way entertainment industries function. Conventional stores like Blockbuster, Borders, and the iconic Virgin Megastore in Times Square are disappearing as people head to their computers to access their entertainment. Online stores give consumers more options at a cheaper rate because there are fewer overhead costs and many companies are taking this route. We are seeing that, in general, this increase in options has driven prices down in most entertainment industries.
Independent and chain music stores have been affected by the increased access to music the Internet provides and many have had to close. Instead of buying complete albums, sites like Amazon MP3 and iTunes allow people to buy single songs for mere pocket change. Musicians have followed suit by selling or giving away their songs on their websites. Music has gotten so affordable that we have started to see the price of concert tickets increase so the record industry can turn a profit.
Another way that people are accessing music more easily is from streaming radio sites like Pandora and Grooveshark. These sites allow for free customizable radio with limited commercials. Many people use this type of service as their main household music source in place of buying music from a brick and mortar shop or even from an online source.
Another hot item that is changing the face of their industry is the eBook. Sites like Amazon sell eBooks for much cheaper than their paper counterparts. Another benefit is that they never sell out and they only weigh as much as the eBook reader they are stored on. We have seen many local and large chain bookstores close due to this competition.
Rather then pay a large monthly fee for satellite or cable TV, many people use services like Netflix and Hulu to stream television shows and movies. The competition in the TV industry to keep viewers and gain ad revenue has pushed many networks to make recently aired episodes available from their website and on handheld Internet enabled devices such as a smartphone.
The way we access our entertainment has changed drastically thanks to the Internet. Television, books, and music found on the Internet are much more cost effective, but this may change. Recently Netflix altered its model of offering both online streaming and physical DVD rentals and also raised its prices. Many articles have been written speculating whether this will hurt or help their business plan. As we see physical stores disappear and online stores become our only option, we may see more sites follow in the model pioneered by Netflix. We will just have to wait and see.