I recently joined the 21st century and signed up for Netflix. Seemed like the only sensible thing to do since they have put all the video stores out of business. And thanks to that, I can see clearly the future of home entertainment. And it has little to do with mailing DVD's in cleverly designed envelopes.
In the last week or so, I've watched the last 2 episodes of “House” on Fox.com, the classic Thanksgiving promotion episode of “WKRP” on hulu.com, and now, thanks, to Netflix, a few episodes of “Weeds”. All on demand, when I had nothing better to do, on my computer. ( This service is included in your Netflix membership) These shows downloaded quickly and looked great (ok, WKRP only looked OK, but that is because it was shot 27 years ago). All were better than what was available on my 200 channels of DISH at the time. The only drawback is that I had to watch on the small screen on my laptop, instead of my big TV.
It is clear that within a few years, we will be watching video on demand via the internet. Cable will be dead. DVD's will be dead. Netflix won't be dead, as long as they have exclusive rights to delivering quality programs with quality video and sound. But they won't be using the mailman anymore.
The only step missing here is the connection between the PC, or the internet in some other way, and that really good TV in your family room. While certainly possible today, that connection doesn't exist in most of our homes yet, but I'm sure it will be here soon. Most of us keep our computers in one room and our home entertainment system in another. That will have to change. Also, it will probably require upgrading high speed internet in this country to the levels that Europe and Japan now enjoy.
If I weren't a sports fan, I'd be looking into a way to hook the TV to my computer now and dumping the DISH. But I still watch TV mostly to watch sports, and I must admit I do love the mindless, late-night exercise of passively flipping through the channels, remote in one hand, beer in the other. But, it is now clear to me that the writers who went on strike last year knew damn well what was coming, and it's going to make our choices better, and life tougher for traditional TV delivery methods.
Now, I'm going out to shop for a TV with a USB connection to a laptop.