There is no doubt that the internet is the future of TV and film, as more and more people make use of digital catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and 4OD, as well as subscription services like Netflix and Lovefilm – but at the moment all these films and TV programmes are first shown either in cinemas or on television. We are, however, starting to see the first such content produced with a proper budget being shown digital first.
Netflix is currently producing the Arrested Development movie that will no doubt be very popular, but more notable are its truly original programming in the form of Lilyhammer, Orange Is The New Black, and now a horror series – Hemlock Grove. For a company that was born out of DVDs by mail and really came to prominence when they started streaming popular TV shows and films – the move into producing their own content is a sign of where the power is swaying towards in the video business.
Outside of the Netflix powerhouse, Anthony Zuiker, creator and executive producer of television series CSI, is planning to premiere his next feature-length movie, Cybergeddon, on Yahoo – who will air it in segments. Yahoo may seem an odd choice to many, but they are clamouring to gain back the momentum that has passed to Google and Facebook over recent years, and the TV networks and cinema/DVD businesses may be an easier target than fighting with those two online juggernauts on their terms.
Television shows and films are still heavily pirated each week on the internet, with most being available for streaming or download within minutes of their premieres – and the producers don;t earn any revenues from these viewers. They know they need to embrace digital to compete with piracy, and going digital first on some occasions may well be a good piece of marketing to show their willingness to do so.