Hello there, and welcome to another edition of the Vintage Media Millennial Blog. In this blog, I discuss the availability of vintage television programming on ad-supported streaming, and whether it is good for the credibility of the material.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a shift in the type of programming offered as part of a paid streaming subscription. I remember the days when the likes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and The Joey Bishop Show were fixtures of Amazon Prime. The choice to watch these shows made streaming an intriguing place to discover the classics. It felt exciting to have access to so much vintage material, as they were (and still are) non-existent on UK television.
After many years, there has been a large shift in priorities for streaming companies. Classic programming slowly began to disappear piece by piece, with the focus on new and original productions becoming more evident. Material of old still has a small place if it is held in such high regard that it would seem ridiculous to have it anywhere else, but many titles have been migrated to ad-supported streaming. While I love the concept of vintage programming available freely via ad-supported platforms, I can’t help but hope it doesn’t devalue the content in the long term. The Dick Van Dyke Show once felt premium, but now it’s available everywhere. Judging as we do in the United Kingdom, programs available everywhere are perceived as lower in quality or substance or perhaps a little tired. While the writing and performance of The Dick Van Dyke Show still hold up, this outside perception could keep it from finding new audiences.
Of course, we have to consider this from a business point of view. The traditional paid streaming service mostly works in a particular way; A subscription is paid by a consumer per month for access to titles mostly commercial-free. The only money the company will make off that content is from the subscription, as opposed to the additional revenue earned on ad-supported services from advertisers. Based on this, it is possible that the old material provided by ad-supported is actually making more money for a content provider, thus its value is maintained.
As more paid streamers transition to an ad-supported option, only time will tell if it makes a difference to the amount of classic content on their platforms.
So what else is there to say? I’ve said enough. If you have anything to say about anything mentioned in this blog post, email Jamie@OldTimeReview.co.uk, tweet @OldTimeReview on Twitter or check out the Old Time Review Facebook page.