On-Demand Entertainment Wars

How many times in the last few months have you watched your favorite tv shows on an actual television?¬†According to recent research by Nielsen, it’s more likely that you watched online using your computer, tablet, or even smartphone. Research shows that the number of people who watch a video online at least once a month has increased to 84%, meaning the majority of people are watching forms of video entertainment online now rather than on a traditional tube.

This shift away from regular cable programming has resulted in a growing market of streaming entertainment providers online. For the last few years, Hulu Plus and Netflix have been in competition, with Netflix leading the war. Netflix has a huge market share, with more than 36 million subscribers to date, while Hulu Plus has approximately 4 million. Both cost $7.99 per month to sign-up. Amazon also offers streaming services through Prime Instant Video, with an estimate of 10 million Amazon Prime users. Amazon Prime costs $79 for an annual subscription that includes streaming services, free-two day shipping on millions of items and access to Amazon’s ebook library.

This week, Amazon decided to amp up the competition by announcing that it has partnered with Viacom to make hundreds of movie titles and more than 4,000 television shows available to Prime Instant Video. Some of the programming Amazon will be offering include beloved children’s shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., including “Dora the Explorer,” “Little Bear,” “Blue’s Clues,” and shows from Comedy Central like “Workaholics.” While Netflix used to offer some of these titles for viewing, they are no longer available. They aren’t available on Hulu Plus either.¬†With Amazon’s recent Viacom agreement, Amazon now offers more than 41,000 titles available to watch instantly with their streaming service.

In an effort to gain an edge over the competition, each company in the streaming tug-of-war is providing exclusive content available only to subscribers. Netflix has originals like the long-awaited fourth season of “Arrested Development,” and “House of Cards,” while Hulu Plus recently revealed dates for its summer lineup of original programming. Exclusive Hulu Plus titles include “East Los High” and Seth Meyers’ superhero show, “The Awesomes.” To get in on the action, Amazon also has five original TV series in the works, including a political comedy with John Goodman.

It will be interesting in the coming months to see who takes the lead in this horse race, and who stays there. With the rapid development of new technology and innovative companies springing up every day, who knows how long these three giants will have control of online entertainment before another competitor steps in. We look forward to watching- let the games begin.