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(Credit: Love Film)


Why LoveFilm could thrive in the modern age of streaming


Any opinion that involves the seemingly ancient practice of DVDs, plastic disc drives and scrambling for the chunky hundred-buttoned remote, sounds like one that should coincide with wild fist-waving and croaking complaints about ‘children these days’. Though, once upon a time, watching content was arguably a lot more enjoyable when choosing a movie involved creating an extensive watchlist before waiting several days for a disc to be sent to you in the mail, encased in an oddly enticing transparent sleeve. 

If you’re none the wiser, we’re talking about the rather unique experience of subscribing to the early on-demand service LoveFilm, with several imitators including Sofa Cinema also jumping on the disc-to-door bandwagon back in the mid-2000s. 

This charming concept was rather quaint in comparison to the flashy fluidity of such online streaming services as Netflix, with the process involving several steps that began with the user curating their very own watch list of films from across the world. We mean any film too, as, ignoring their curious dispute with Universal pictures, the catalogue of LoveFilm was vast, including brand new releases, obscure international gems and quintessential Hollywood classics. 

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Truly a platform for keen film fans and avid cinephiles, the watchlist was a physical manifestation of all those recommendations you’ve kept in your head over the years, with the only modern comparison being the similar feature on the popular movie app, Letterboxd. Paying a flat rate, you would receive two discs at a time with an unlimited allowance over the course of the month, meaning one disc could be a challenging foreign classic and the other could be a blockbuster guilty pleasure. 

So, apart from making the process a lot more cumbersome than modern streaming services, restricting you to just two choices of content, what makes the loss of LoveFilm and similar on-demand services such a loss?

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+ and the multiple other streaming services that are seemingly cropping up every day all share one overwhelming feature; content, in abundance. LoveFilm on the other hand offered the exact opposite, giving the user the chance to curate their own content, seeking out the films they want to see, rather than watching that which they feel obliged to see thanks to an algorithm. 

When you take a step back, the likes of Netflix may even seem more regressive in comparison, offering a passive experience of entertainment consumption rather than the assertive act of choosing your own content, picking films and TV series that directly appeal to you. 

The reality of modern streaming services involves endlessly scrolling through badly laid-out back-catalogues to find a film ‘you don’t really want to watch, but is the best of a bad bunch’, rather than watching something you genuinely want to see. You’d think, in an era that purports to cater to everyone’s tastes, LoveFilm could thrive, leading the charge for consumers to take back control of their viewing habits, eradicating the mindless filler ‘content’ of streaming services to be replaced by the freedom of curated choice.