The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may be looking backwards, having announced the Oscar nominees for the 87th time, but audiences are eagerly anticipating so much more as they look ahead to 2015. Content junkies have plenty to rejoice about this year as boundaries blur between providers, offering an astonishing line-up of choices fueled by innovative sports and entertainment technologies across platforms.
Amazon Studios may have already fired the first warning shot into the field of traditional media players as the first online streaming service to receive a Golden Globes award. Jeffrey Tambor won “Best Actor in a TV Comedy, while original show Transparent walked away with the “Best TV Series, Comedy or Musical” award. Coming soon are original movies that Amazon Studios plans to produce and acquire for theatrical release and early distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Chinese-based e-commerce provider, Alibaba, is getting into the movie business too. Its debut film, Bai Du Ren (Ferrymen) is based on a short story by Zhang Jaijia.
Clearly, live streaming is the place to be. Netflix has already released its newest original series, The Adventures of Puss in Boots. Viewers no longer need to a pay TV subscription to watch HBO (GO) or ESPN. Sony hopes to turn its Playstation consoles into cable boxes with its Playstation Vue internet TV service. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), LG Electronics announced alliances with some of the biggest names in technology and content for the company’s webOS 2.0 Smart TV platform. These include GoPro, DIRECTV, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, HSN, SHOWTIME, Drama Fever and iHeartRadio. Consumers will likely applaud LG’s stated goal: to make TV simple again.
Lines are being crossed everywhere. Recently HBO partnered with IMAX Theatres to screen Game of Thrones at 150 IMAX theatres across the United States. The week-long festivities featured the last two episodes from season four and a preview trailer for season five – all digitally re-mastered for IMAX theaters.
Does this mean television sets as we know them are disappearing? Netflix doesn’t think so. The online streaming company is offering its 53 million members an evaluation program called “Netflix Recommended TV” to identify televisions built for a “superior Internet TV experience.” Meantime, the polemic between the United States Congress, Senate and White House around net neutrality promises to heat up with FCC proposals due later this month.
Those of us in the technology industry call all this change digital transformation. When audiences are able to watch what they want when they want it, they call it happiness. Speaking of which, I may watch the 2015 Academy Awards on February 22. But my calendar’s marked for certain on February 27 when Netflix premieres Season 3 of House of Cards. Now that’s really entertaining political theater.
Follow me @smgaler