The future of television may not rest in the hands of typical content creators. Or, perhaps not directly in the hands of the same distribution channels that we're used to. While ISPs have typically been the ultimate gatekeepers for content, smaller firms like Amazon and Netflix are quietly paving the way for a new type of distribution that bypasses Comcast, Viacom, HBO and all of the rest. They're forking out funds to produce original content that only their subscribers have access to, flipping the equation entirely. Soon, it'll be pay-TV subscribers that are clamoring for access to shows that debut on Netflix
, and unless Netflix licenses that distribution to companies like Comcast, those subscribers will be out of luck. After years of the pay-TV providers having this edge, it seems as if the tables are slowly starting to turn.
each stated that they'd be funding some original content, pundits began to watch in order to see if the model was viable. Clearly, people are into it. Netflix is seeing huge ratings for "House of Cards," and now, it's nabbing another exclusive that could convince hold-outs to finally spring for a Netflix subscription. The Wachowskis Brothers (the guys behind "The Matrix") and J. Michael Straczynski have signed on to create "Sense8." It'll debut in 2014, and it's described as a "new science-fiction thriller from the acclaimed directors of Cloud Atlas and The Matrix Trilogy and the creator of Babylon 5." Specifically, it's hailed as "a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted," and no, you won't see it on primetime TV.
It's a 10-episode series, and it marks the first foray into television by the Wachowskis. Perhaps most interesting about this is the signal it sends: clearly, high-profile content creators are looking for new and frictionless methods for distributing content. Instead of working with conventional TV channels and movie studios, going straight to the Web via Amazon or Netflix probably seems like a far more desirable method. If the trend continues, it's going to be harder and harder for content lovers to ignore Netflix.