Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made an interesting prediction two days ago. Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD Live 2016, Hastings spoke of better entertainment substitutes for movies and TV shows in the future. One of these might come in a pill.
After talking about the possibility of an AT&T/Time Warner merger, the Netflix boss unexpectedly veered toward the future of an industry that’s largely been screen-based. Netflix’s competition, according to Hastings, is anything that takes the viewer’s attention away from the screen. For the future, the real challenge is to figure out what will take back this attention, he says. “Is it VR, is it gaming, is it pharmacological?” he asked, according to TechCrunch.
He added: “In twenty or fifty years, taking a personalized blue pill you just hallucinate in an entertaining way and then a white pill brings you back to normality is perfectly viable.” It’s an idea straight out of The Matrix and, more recently, featured in a video game called Watch Dogs.
“And if the source of human entertainment in thirty or forty years is pharmacological we’ll be in real trouble,” said a not-so-chill Netflix boss.
Theses predictions aren’t really that farfetched. Yes, recreational drugs are nothing new. But more than that, the idea that contemporary entertainment sources are being challenged by technologies like augmented and virtual realities (AR/VR) is already happening. Their applications are branching out beyond just gaming.
As AR and VR technologies improve, entertainment uses also develop. The future of entertainment, indeed, may lie beyond a screen. When the time comes, will companies like Netflix be able to keep up? As of this moment, Netflix settles into original programming — quite successfully — with hits like Stranger Things, House of Cards, Narcos, and now acquiring sci-fi horror/thriller Black Mirror.
If the once DVD-by-mail service company can change to become a successful streaming service and original content provider, surely it can make itself relevant for a future-without-screens?
We just have to wait and chill.