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At the time of writing, Netflix has more than 203 million active subscribers worldwide. That is an eye-watering amount, particularly when you consider that this is a paid-for service – there are no freebies here, and that highlights the extent to which content streaming platforms are now not only incredibly popular but actually essential in our everyday lives.
Amazon have entered the space of course with their Prime platform, and it’s likely that many other global brands will follow suit in the near future.
Naturally, streaming services have two options for populating their channels – they can buy pre-existing content in, or they can invest in their own productions. Ultimately, it is this latter avenue that will surely prove to be the success or failure-maker for Netflix and co. If they are able to produce their own exclusive content that proves to be a hit with their audience, then that will drive sign-ups more than simply saying, ‘Here’s a load of old movies and TV shows you’ve probably seen already.’
Take Stranger Things, for example. Netflix went out on a limb by investing heavily in the production, but there is a demand for 1980s nostalgia and given the strength of the writing and the quality of acting among the show’s young stars, it was always likely to be a hit. And boy, is it a hit. When the third series of Stranger Things was released in July 2019, an astonishing 40 million households in the United States alone tuned in to watch, with nearly one million binge-watching the whole series upon the day of its release.
Comic book adaptations have proven to be big business too, with the Marvel and D.C. universes well plundered for ideas. But what about more esoteric versions of vintage comic books that drive a different audience to streaming? The Umbrella Academy was a surprise hit, and then over on Amazon Prime you have The Boys, which unfolds in a world completely opposite to that of the good guy superheroes of Marvel.
So what is the next trope that streaming channels will tap into?
The Emerald Isle
We’ve all seen shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime that tap into Greek or Norse mythology. Vikings has been a big hit for the latter, while the former released Ragnarok to much fanfare in 2020 – to mixed reviews, it has to be said. And yet, there are areas of history crying out for a contemporary series. Just think of Irish mythology, for example, from Cu Chulainn to the Fianna, which has so far not been represented on the small screen.
Irish folklore has been tapped into in other areas, such as online casino gaming, with great success. Slot games such as Rainbow Riches have used the history of the Emerald Isle as inspiration, and others have used Celtic imagery and narratives in a unique way too.
So, once the 1980s nostalgia trip has run its course, look out for ancient Irish mythology to be the next exciting genre to enjoy a boom in popularity on streaming platforms.