Battle of the big, binge-worthy blockbusters

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“Snowpiercer”… one of Netflix’s biggest new shows this year.

What’s this? A new streaming platform, this time from pay-tv monopolist Foxtel offering the “next-generation” look at HBO programs, writes our streamer-in-chief NICK OVERALL. 

IT was only a matter of time until someone swooped up the trademark of “Binge” in this crowded streaming market. 

Nick Overall.

Foxtel is the culprit – in the last week it registered that buzzword to, in all likelihood, tack on to its new streaming platform, that went live on May 25. 

Looks like any subtlety about keeping you glued to the TV is out the window.

Foxtel’s calling it “the next generation” of streaming and its big selling point is being able to bring over the astounding catalogue of HBO, an American TV network that Foxtel had a very powerful handshake with.

The News Corp-owned Foxtel being able to give Australians access to some of the most iconic shows of all time – produced by king of television HBO – has seen it more than rise from near ashes when just last year Mr Murdoch himself had to help bail out the nation’s largest pay TV operator to the tune of $300 million.

From the gritty crime-filled streets of New Jersey in “The Sopranos”, to the epic fantasy of “Game of Thrones”, to the disturbing true story behind last year’s miniseries hit “Chernobyl”, HBO continues to wow audiences around the world with how it’s pushing television beyond what we thought possible. With Foxtel having more than put a toe in the water, the inevitable plethora of content on the new platform is set to make a serious splash in the market. 

I’m going to make an educated guess that it’s not a coincidence May 25 also saw the release of one of Netflix’s biggest new shows this year. “Snowpiercer” is about a gigantic, non-stop train that serves as home to survivors after Earth’s second ice age. Turns out the locomotive is quite the microcosm: those with the cash have the choice seats up the front, battling it out with the hoi polloi back in cattle-class.

“Snowpiercer” is originally an evocative 2013 film from Bong Joon Ho, the Korean director who took out best picture for “Parasite” last year. On the back of that breakout hype, he’s come over as executive producer for this new series and Netflix hasn’t wasted that opportunity in its marketing. Joon Ho’s original film is, of course, also available to be streamed on the platform.

May 22 also saw one of Amazon Prime’s biggest hits, “Homecoming”, returning for a second season. It’s a twisted psychological thriller about an organisation that trains soldiers back into civilian life – or so they claim. Pretty Woman Julia Roberts leads in this one in her first recurring television-series role.

So what does all this reveal? Where once TV was the “small screen”, in terms of influence and market share, the little brother is hot on the heels of its big cinematic sibling.

In the last 10 years especially, we’ve watched TV in a new golden age with ratings going to the streaming service that can provide us with the most mammoth of blockbusters. Shows such as “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” have been able to give audiences a near-cinema experience from the comfort of their couch on a weekly basis. 

The fact that the huge ambition of a film such as “Snowpiercer” or the star power of famous film actors such as Julia Roberts is now transferred to a television medium really does speak volumes.

Despite the tight competition between platforms being rather frustrating for figuring out where in an overwhelming world of programs we put our hard-earned dollars, ultimately, it’s even better for us, the viewer. In the clamour for our attention – and cash – platforms are now expected to bring us the “next big thing”.

With more bucks leading to more budget on these productions and ever more passengers jumping on board, this huge television streaming locomotive will only continue to rapidly accelerate into the future 


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