Once upon a time, we’d head to the movie theater to watch a film, or tune in each week to catch the latest episode of a popular show. Entertainment options were limited, and our viewing habits revolved around a predetermined schedule. Who doesn’t remember waiting in eager anticipation for a movie sequel or the conclusion to a television series? At the time, we’d enjoy our broadcast—then move on with our lives.
Fast forward to today, and it’s clear that the entertainment landscape has changed dramatically. We have DVRs and streaming digital content, all supported by high-speed internet and nearly ubiquitous smartphone and tablet access. We have more options than ever before for how, when—and how much—entertainment we consume. That’s why the average American now watches more than five hours of TV each day; as a nation, Americans spent more than $6 billion on video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in 2016.
With so much video content available “on demand,” movies and television now influence our activities on a nearly constant basis. Let’s consider just few examples of how this trend is impacting us:
The Rise of Binge Viewing
We now have virtually limitless ways to consume the same content. That has led to the rise of “binge watching” or “marathon viewing,” where we view several episodes of a show during a single sitting. Seventy percent of consumers report binge watching, averaging five episodes per session. All that time going through shows and re-watching movies has created a population more knowledgeable about cinematic entertainment than any in history.
A Treasure Trove of Content for Fans
Reviews, trailers, cast lists and entertainment-related content is also more accessible than ever.
In the past, a “deep dive” into your favorite show, actor or director was difficult. Today, if you want to know what you missed in a recent Game Of Thrones episode, or wonder what went into Tom Hardy’s performance in Mad Max: Fury Road, you need only open a Reddit thread and start learning.
Beyond personal online research, knowledge-based entertainment sources like podcasts are emerging. The beauty of radio advertising is partially responsible for the explosion in podcast popularity, as companies throw their support behind podcasts that attract respectable followings. Countless podcasts, from “The West Wing Weekly” to “The Watch,” exist largely to recap shows and movies. Our changing expectations of entertainment make fans excited to consume related content—even when not actually watching a film or show.
Business Entertainment Inspires Budding Entrepreneurs and Professionals
Remember this catchphrase, “You’re fired!”? The U.S. President Donald Trump was formerly a host of a reality talent game show The Apprentice, first aired in the U.S. in 2004. Created by producer Mark Burnett, The Apprentice captured both business and non-business enthusiasts with its interesting elimination-style business competition, which the winner will be the real life apprentice of Donald Trump for a year, running one of his companies. In season 15, Trump was replaced by actor and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger due to Trump’s presidential campaign and election.
Another infamous reality TV series focused on the business world is the award-winning Shark Tank. First aired in 2009, Shark Tank features budding entrepreneur-contestants pitching to the “sharks,” consisting of influential investors and entrepreneurs like Daymond John, Mark Cuban, and so on. This year is Shark Tank’s 9th season, and the show continues to inspire budding entrepreneurs to hone their investor pitches.
This genre continues to evolve: The next-gen biz reality show Planet of the Apps, Apple’s first original series, feature budding appreneurs who pitch their ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs-slash-celebrities Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gary Vaynerchuk, and will.i.am. Chosen contestants will be mentored by the panel members on how to pitch their apps to a VC for real funding opportunities.
Film and TV Tourism Follows Top Productions
There has always been a certain allure to seeing the places where movies and television shows were filmed. This burgeoning industry now reaches far beyond a studio tour, and highlights the far-reaching impact that a movie or television show can have on our day-to-day lives. The internet makes it fast and easy to research exact filming locations and travel options.
Today’s productions are more ambitious with sets. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Game Of Thrones fan who wouldn’t love to visit the Croatian coastline to see the sets for King’s Landing. Westworld has inspired viewers to tour the American Southwest. And classics like 1985’s Out of Africa with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep filled an entire generation with wanderlust for the African continent. Even science fiction films like Gravity and The Martian are drumming up interest in small space travel exhibitions that could be vacation possibilities in near future.
Celebrities Inspire Via Social Media
Popular actors have always held a certain allure for the general public, but before the internet, our access to them was largely limited to traditional media outlets like magazines. Social media levels the playing field, giving fans an all-access pass to who they are and what they’re starring in, all the way to the minute-by-minute detail of what they eat, say, do and think. As a result, we can find inspiration and emulate the ones we admire most.
For instance, the comedy Baywatch could make many young guys want to look like (and be as funny as) Zac Efron. Efron has been open about recent struggles, including an Adderall problem, but famously turned himself around by getting fit, clean and putting his career back on track. His story may help those with similar struggles work to substitute problematic dependencies with natural supplement alternatives, or hit the gym and work on your beach body. He’s just one example of how increased exposure to our favorite actors has widened the reach of the entertainment business.
These are just a few things to think about the next time you’re streaming your favorite show, listening to a movie review podcast or following your favorite actors on Twitter. The impact of television and film is indeed ever-present in our lives.