In the past few years, our options for accessing entertainment have grown drastically. This increased access has changed the way these industries function. Brick and mortar stores like Blockbuster, Borders, and even the iconic Virgin Megastore in Times Square are disappearing as people head online to get their entertainment. Many companies are going this route because there are fewer overhead costs associated with running a business primarily online. The benefit for the customer is that there are now more and cheaper options available. In general, with increased options, prices are driven down across the board.
Music sites and applications like iTunes or Amazon’s MP3 Store allow people to buy single songs rather then the whole album. Some musicians allow individuals to purchase songs directly from them on their websites and many simply give their songs away. This new structure for shopping for music has caused many independent and chain stores to close and the power of record companies to shrink. The price of full albums has gone down, but the price of concert tickets and merchandise has risen to compensate for lower album sales.
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.
EBook Readers are also a hot item these days. Digital versions of books can purchased for much less than their physical counterparts found in brick and mortar bookstores. Because these digital books can never sell out, sites like Amazon have seen tremendous success, whereas classic shops like Borders are closing their doors forever.
Instead of paying for satellite or cable TV, many people choose the more cost effective route of streaming television on sites such as Netflix or Hulu. There is such competition in the TV industry lately that many network channels now upload their most recently aired episodes to their websites and make them available to Internet enabled devices like the iPad.
Instant access to all of our entertainment needs via the Internet has greatly decreased the cost we used to have to pay for these services. Recently, however, it’s been big news that Netflix has raised their prices and segmented their service offering. There is a lot of speculation about whether this will help or hinder them. Their success with this change over the next few months will most likely determine if other online entertainment services will follow suit. Only time will tell.