Today’s media landscape looks very different from just two decades ago. We live in a world of instant gratification, an era of having nearly all information at our fingertips. We have a new generation coming up on new technology. They have their own language, their own likes, dislikes, and ideas on how the world should work. Millennials and Generation Z have overcome many social stigmas and negative viewpoints from older generations. They have embraced technology, seeing the benefit that it gives in their daily lives. Providing convenience, convergence, and simplicity.
Technology has changed the way we all live our daily lives, specifically from an entertainment standpoint. No longer are traditional media outlets the most popular method for consumption of media. Media giants like Netflix have changed the way we ingest entertainment. Streaming, accessibility, original content, and the birth of many social trends. From Binge Watching to “Netflix & Chill”, whether we like it or not, Netflix and other streaming platforms have changed the way we consume media.
Currently, Netflix gives people the opportunity to access over 8,000 titles at their fingertips, ranging from movies, to tv shows, to documentaries, and even comedy specials. And over the last year, Netflix has continued on a trend of releasing an unprecedented amount of original content per month, hitting 32 different originals in November 2017 alone.
With over 109 million subscribers worldwide, and over 10 billion hours of content streamed per month, it appears Netflix as well as other streaming services are changing the worldwide media landscape forever.
There has been a steady decline of traditional media cable subscriptions over the last 6 years in the U.S. This summer, cable pay-tv subscriptions dipped below that of Netflix’s with 49 million subscribers to Netflix’s 51 million in the U.S.
Ana Francois, a University of Miami School of Communication Professor, and prior Sales Support Executive in Worldwide Television Distribution for Universal Studios, says Over the Top services, like Netflix and other streaming platforms, are so popular because they provide more convenience for viewers. “Consumers aren’t watching linear television as much. Why?” Francois asked. “Simple. People value flexibility in watching and picking up their media at any point in time.” Linear television is becoming more of a public service, providing things like news, sporting events, and award ceremonies for mass audiences.
Netflix has rendered weekly showtimes a thing of the past within it’s service. Entire seasons of a T.V. show come out on one release date, leaving it to the viewer to decide how and when to watch it. “Netflix is letting consumers watch on any device, at any time, without commercials, and gives the ability to pause and come back to at any point in time.” said Francois. But this is not always a good thing.
Max Miller, Motion Pictures student at the University of Miami, is a big fan of the entertainment industry, and keeps up with popular trends and programs. While admitting to binge watching, Miller is not completely sold on the idea. Miller says there is a certain pressure to stay on top of trending shows, and watch an entire season the day it comes out. “When the second season of Stranger Things came out, I watched it in one sitting.” Miller said. “Due to the social implications of the possibility of having it spoiled almost anywhere I looked online.”
Some other notable shows Max has binge watched are Master of None, Ozarks, and the first season of Daredevil. Watching for several long hours at a time.
Such habits have become the norm. Binge watching is changing not just our viewing convention, but also has the ability to drive experimentation with new storytelling formats. Such is seen in the new Netflix series Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, a choose your own adventure story for kids that will likely drive a new format of creativity with content.
Netflix has also begun to diverge on the typical 30 to 60 minute format that came with linear television before it. It experiments with the 10-12 hour story, with episodic breaks, meant to be thought of as one whole piece, instead of individual episodes. “The technology makes the possibility easier for new formats to emerge,” said Francois. “But, only demand will consistently drive new storytelling formats.” Francois believes there is still a way to go for Netflix to unlock complete creative freedom, but thinks it’s on the right track to continue changing perceptions.
Over the past five years, Netflix has solidified itself as a global driver in the entertainment industry. Effecting the way we all consume media in some form or another. It has led toward the creation of many social trends like binge watching, and popular domestic content like Stranger Things, House of Cards, and a few Marvel Superhero series’. Netflix has led toward experimentation in new storytelling formats, and genres alike, with a wide diverse selection of over 8,000 titles on it’s home screen.