Tony Earnshaw: Cinema - the one true artform of the 20th century - has had it tough over the years

"Poor old cinema. The one true artform of the 20th century has had it tough over the years".
"Poor old cinema. The one true artform of the 20th century has had it tough over the years".
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Are you a binger or a whinger?

A bit random, I know, but I’m referring to those annoyingly hip folk for whom streaming is a state of mind and those stuck-in-a-timeloop retrophiles who cling to the notion of the “traditional” viewing experience.

New figures show more under 35s than ever before are embracing the streaming experience as evidenced by the 5.3 million viewers who signed up to Netflix in a three-month period.

That’s not as good as the 6.3 million that was anticipated but then what’s a million people between friends?

As entertainment consumers we are in the midst of a revolution, and it’s huge. As big, in fact, as the impact of the talkies on silent flicks, of TV on films and of the video cassette on going out to the pictures. Poor old cinema. The one true artform of the 20th century has had it tough over the last hundred-and-odd years. Of course it keeps bouncing back and surprising everyone but I’m guessing that the combination of Netflix and Amazon Prime will deliver a mighty sucker punch. And it could be a game-changer.

It’s not too long ago that cinema reigned supreme. It did so because aside from live theatre and the house of varieties it had no real competition. Of course things change and just as film stars go out of style so movies themselves ebb and flow with audience tastes.

It’s an evolution based on technology. Betamax gave way to VHS, which was usurped by the DVD, which was eclipsed by Blu-ray just as the CD superseded vinyl. Now everything can be contained within one little box. One man’s movie/record collection can be stored all in one tidy place.

No need to blow the dust off a DVD; just find whatever takes your fancy on Netflix. And then… binge! Still a relatively new phenomenon, binge-watching means never having to leave the comfort of the couch apart from grabbing another snack, refilling your cup or nipping to the loo. Children of the 80s unite: you may never have to leave the house again.

But what of those whingers who, like me, desperately hang on to the notion of traditional viewing, or at least some semblance of it? Have we said goodbye to cosying up together on the sofa to collectively enjoy a telly show?

No, not yet. If Sunday Night at the London Palladium was a 60s fave then in the brave new world of the millennium we have Strictly Come Dancing. And then there was the World Cup.

But the days of five terrestrial channels are long gone. Even satellite and cable are feeling the pinch. And don’t get me started on waiting three years to watch The Big Movie on telly.

Still, some things never change. I might have a thousand movies at my fingertips but there are still some things I can’t get enough of. In fact, Jaws has just started on Channel 5 so I better run…