Entertainment Trends

By Paula LaBrot
Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot

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Over the last couple of COVID-19 years, quarantined populations have relied heavily on home-accessed sources of entertainment to fill in their days and nights of isolation. Entertainment fulfilled roles from companionship to babysitting. When people got tired of just watching, they began making and broadcasting their own entertainment. Ever since the development of video and digital technologies, there has been a definite shift toward the decentralization of the entertainment industry. Power to the people! It’s interesting to see what latest trends in entertainment are emerging and causing major paradigm shifts in the delivery of content to consumers. Let’s get you up to date with the vocabulary of some of these new technologies. Streaming According to Sam Costello writing for lifewire.com, “Streaming is a technology used to deliver content to computers and mobile devices over the internet without having to download it. Streaming transmits data, usually audio and video, as a continuous flow, which allows the recipients to watch or listen almost immediately without having to wait for a download to complete.” Pre-recorded or live content can be streamed. This real-time technology works wonderfully as long as you have a relatively fast internet connection. Have you ever been watching something and suddenly it freezes for a bit before playing on? You might see an hourglass or a loading spiral spinning? Lisa Iscrupe of allconnect.com explains, “Buffering… is when your device pauses mid-task. Your system will put your task on hold until enough data is downloaded to allow the music or video stream to play without lag.” If your internet connection is fast enough, you will not have to worry about such loading delays. Accessing streaming content involves connecting your screening device, TV, computer, or phone to the internet. Ad-free content providers are companies like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, or others that charge a subscription fee. There are free providers like the Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Vudu, Tubi, or IMDbtv, who make their money by selling advertising Essentially, you can get a lot of TV and entertainment without paying for cable or going to a theater. Companies are now producing original content in the form of features (long-form narrative cinema), mini-series and documentaries. Sports can be live-streamed as well. Streaming is here to stay. According to Kyle Byers of explodingtopics.com, subscribers for Amazon Prime have increased 139% since 2017. Disney+ launched in 2019 and has 118 million subscribers. He reports video streaming is expected to total over $108 billion dollars by 2025. Podcasting I love this format. Podcasts are audio discussions on any subject you could possibly imagine. Podcasts are digital audio files you can download onto your computer or your phone. The term originated from a combination of ‘iPod’, an early portable media player and broadcast. “Podcasting started as mostly an independent way for individuals to get their message out there and build a community of people with similar interests,” according to Ross Winn of podcastinsights.com. You know how people put up all kinds of videos on Youtube? Well, in a podcast, people talk about anything that interests them. They can be instructional, opinionated, narrative, meditational, and now, marketing tools. Podcasts are typically a series of talks. New installments can be added. Some are original shows written by amateurs. Some podcasts are tied into existing television or streaming content and are written by professionals. Byers reports, “In 2022, it’s expected that 140 million people will listen to podcasts at least once per month. And that’s in the U.S. alone. By 2023, that number is estimated to grow to 164 million listeners. In fact, there are now more than 2 million active podcasts.” Most podcasts are free to subscribers. But this platform has become so popular that there are now networks that have fees for subscribers. What I love is that podcasting is talk radio democratized to the max. Anyone can make a podcast. You sign up with a hosting platform. These platforms will walk you through how to start your podcast and even help you develop an audience and monetize your podcast. There are hosting platforms that charge fees like Captivate and Podbean. There are free hosting platforms like RedCircle or Podbean Free. At this point, you get what you pay for. Patreon Less known platforms of modern entertainment are crowd-funded sites like Patreon. Creators of content receive monthly donations from subscribers to support their projects. This kind of direct fan support has become one of the biggest trends in entertainment, according to Winn. One of my ex-students, Chris Chappell, is on the Patreon platform with the program “China Uncensored.” It’s a fresh, informative show that will teach you everything you need to know about China today. I have signed onto their “50 cent army” where subscribers pay 50 cents for each episode watched. The teacher becomes the student. Entertainment of the Future There is much more trending, such as virtual reality worlds to get lost in, cloud gaming, social video. oh my! How glad I am to live in Topanga where my best entertainment is a walk with the dogs in this magical place. Back in ancient Rome, the greatest fear of government at that time was fire and social unrest. For the social unrest, there was a simple formula. “Give ‘em bread and circuses.” The more things change, the more they stay the same. Vamos a ver!
Paula Labrot

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December 10, 2021

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