This week HBO announced that Americans will soon be able to watch the premium cable channel without subscribing to cable TV, getting good shows and awful movies through the Internet. Good news for me, since I already get only the most basic cable package plus HBO, foregoing sports, Duck Dynasty, and seizure-inducing news channels. (Did you hear that Crossfire got cancelled again?) Soon I can get rid of cable TV forever and only pay for channels and shows that I watch!
Still, I kind of wish Turner Classic Movies were being offered à la carte instead. I’m the last person to disrespect new TV; I love John Oliver and Veep, and I’m enjoying Netflix shows like Orange Is the New Black. But access to older movies (and, maybe, older TV shows) may be the big casualty of the move to streaming entertainment.
I’m one of the dinosaurs who still subscribes to mail-delivered DVDs through Netflix because that’s the only way to get most classic films after video stores disappeared. Last week I watched Taxi Driver for the first time on a Netflix DVD. Before the movie started, I had to sit through a commercial for a product of “the future,” called the DVD. So one of the most highly regarded films in history was on a piece of plastic about 20 years old. When someone steps on it before mailing it back, will Netflix replace it? How long before Netflix completely sheds its bothersome DVD service anyway?
The bargain bins in the few stores left that sell DVDs are eventually going away, Netflix is showing little interest in putting classic cinema online, and cable channels that show movies written for people over 12 may not be able to survive without being subsidized by customers who never watch them. Better get through that movie bucket list while you still can.