Okay, it’s time for the physical video rental industry to make a comeback.
The golden age of online streaming is over. Until recently, with subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, HBO (just for the few months that Game of Thrones has new episodes), and Amazon, I could stream almost anything I could think of for no extra charge. Pretty much the only things I couldn’t get were premium original series from HBO rivals like Showtime and Starz.
Over the past year or so, I’ve been encountering more and more situations in which huge chunks of my watchlists are disappearing as licensing deals start running out. There are almost zero classic movies left on Netflix and Hulu. (At one time I could watch pretty much the entire oeuvre of Satyajit Ray on Hulu. All gone now.)
These days when my wife wants to watch something specific, more often than not, we end up renting it from iTunes.
A few months ago, I subscribed to CBS so I could watch Star Trek Discovery. I’m at my limit. I’m not going to sign up for Warner Bros. streaming so I can watch DC movies, for Disney streaming so I can watch Star Wars and Marvel movies, and more.
So today, I dug out my library card to go look at my local library’s DVD collection. I used to borrow a lot of movies and TV shows on VHS and DVD from the public library back in the 1990s. I saw almost all the biggest Humphrey Bogart movies that way.
But my current library’s collection is very hit-and-miss. Unless public libraries step up their game, that’s not an adequate substitute.
But, you say, Netflix’s mail-order DVD business still exists! You could still use that! What, another monthly subscription to add to everything else? And I have doubts that that particular service has much of a future at this point. Besides, it turns out I love browsing DVDs on a shelf. I discover things that way, I’m reminded of things, etc.
Bring back the physical video rental place! Display those objects! Encourage browsing! Append a café! Have in-store movie festivals and lectures. Include video games and video game tournaments!
Someone do this? All over the country? Please?