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 customers 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.
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 basically 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.
Streaming music sites such as Pandora and Grooveshark allow for free customized radio with few commercials. The music is available on most Internet connected devices anywhere at any time. Many people use these services to “try out” music before buying and often times use them instead of purchasing new music.
The face of books has changed in the past couple years as well. Thanks to eBooks, people can buy digital books directly from sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble and have them instantly downloaded onto their handheld device. The prices of these digital books are usually significantly cheaper and the online stores never sell out.
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.
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.