Online Streaming services have undoubtedly changed the way we consume content forever. Long gone are the days where you had to visit your local video store to pick up the latest DVD, (along with your favourite selection of snacks of course).

Stores such as the ill-fated Blockbuster became the ultimate victim of this due to a change in habits of consumers across the world, ultimately leading to its demise when legal streaming services such as Netflix hit the scene. Services such as this provided a hugely convenient way to watch a huge library of films and TV shows from the comfort of your own home.

Streaming services have come on leaps and bounds since their inception, and become more easily accessible and affordable, with an vast array of content available at the click of a button. Internet connected devices such as games consoles and more recently television sets with built in Netflix streaming functionality have made it easier than ever to access content, and it is now even possible to watch via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Despite the popularity of such legal services as Netflix and its main competitor Amazon Prime Video however, they have failed to stamp out the issue of piracy, which has long been a problem for the film and television industries despite numerous attempts to combat the problem. Devices such as Amazon’s Fire Stick have the ability to have media applications such as Kodi installed on them, with a huge selection of add-ons available providing easy access to all the latest films, TV shows and live sport streams, albeit illegally.

This form of media consumption has overtaken pirate websites such as The Pirate Bay as the leading way of accessing content for free given how easily accessible and convenient it is to stream, as opposed to downloading it which perhaps would have been the case a few years back.

Legal streaming services have enjoyed vast increases in their subscriber bases and continue to do so. However, their illegal counterparts have long been the option for many due to TV giants such as Sky, Virgin, and BT being heavily criticised for the high monthly cost of their packages, particularly when bundled with added extras such as sports and movie channels.

All in all, it is hard to deny the fact that streaming services have had a profound effect on the consumption of media, which undoubtedly led to the struggle of aforementioned retail stores as they fell behind and failed to catch up to their online competitors.

Consumers ultimately chose convenience over the now nostalgic trip to the video store, as online streaming grows from strength to strength in terms of the content available. Both Netflix and Amazon have invested heavily in the creation of original content, which has seen the production of dozens of highly rated shows and films released on a regular basis via the respective services.

It remains to be seen how long illegal services are an option for consumers, as their ever-increasing popularity leads to the frustrations of copyright holders in the film and television industries respectively, and legal services and the authorities still have a long way to go in order to bring an end to piracy, despite their best attempts.

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