If you know people of a certain age, you may hear them talk about the golden age of television with misty-eyed reverie. A time when people truly believed that with all the TV networks at our disposal and video stores on every street corner, things couldn’t get any better. Well, things did get better, and in a very big way.
The entertainment options that are now available to us are the stuff of dreams. Things that people in the 80s and even the 90s could only begin to imagine were possible are now a reality.
Let’s start with the big one — streaming. Back in the early 2000s we thought that nothing could possibly kill off the global industry that was video rentals. Sure, VHS had been replaced by DVDs and there was a possibility that they, in turn, would soon be replaced by Blu Ray discs. But did we ever think for a moment that there would come a time when there would be no video stores anywhere? Well, apart from the last Blockbuster on Earth that is.
Video streaming and a little company called Netflix changed all of that and the entertainment industry has never looked back. Streaming has brought everything into our homes from the latest movies releases to the best TV shows. It has even brought the sports we love to wider audiences than we ever thought possible. As of 2022, Netflix alone has 220 million subscribers while its nearest competitor Amazon Prime has just over 200 million. And they’re just two players in an ever-expanding market.
The nostalgic among us still pine for the days of Mario and DonkeyKong and those clunky consoles with wired controllers. But it’s never more than a fleeting thought as the gaming industry is simply unstoppable right now. From MMORPG titles to Apple Arcade, gaming has never been easier or more exciting.
All you need to do is think of a game or style of game and the chances are that you can download a mobile version of it to your smartphone or play a cloud-based version through your PC or console. Even the casino industry has gotten in on the act with blackjack, roulette, poker, and craps just some of the many casino games that you can now play online. There are even live dealer games now that combine the latest gaming technology with the live streaming of actual dealers running the game you are playing.
Believe it or not, if Meta has its way, gaming is going to get even more immersive with the metaverse set to open up a whole slew of new gaming opportunities for both developers and players.
Spotify may not be to everyone’s tastes, but there’s no doubt that like Netflix, the music streaming platform changed how we listen to music forever. Gone are the days of queuing outside a record store to buy an album on its release date — which is actually a shame.
That said, being able to listen to an album in full the moment it is released is something else. Thanks to Google music, Spotify, Tidal, and even YouTube, music is instantly accessible to anyone with a solid internet connection.
The advent of music streaming has also had an unforeseen benefit. It has allowed many of us to rediscover old music and listen to new genres that we would never have tried if we had to pay for it at a record store.
All the choices
Remember when entertainment choices consisted of a few channels, a bunch of VHS tapes, and perhaps an old gaming console? What a time to be alive that was and let’s face it, we thought we had it good.
These days though, there’s almost too much high quality content and gaming options to choose from. Netflix has approximately 3,800 movies and 1,500 shows while there are 180 games on Apple Arcade. And that’s only two of your many many options. Back in the 1990s you were lucky if you had control of the remote, nowadays you’re in control of everything on pretty much any device of your choosing.
So to answer the question ‘is this the golden age of entertainment?’ we’d have to say yes. But that’s only because we haven’t seen what the future holds for us yet.