Remember those ‘good ole days’ as a child and watching your favorite television show? Rushing to the living room at seven o’clock with your massive amounts of popcorn at hand and taking that prime spot on the floor three feet away from the T.V. screen? That anxious feeling you would get while wishing the commercials would speed up so your favorite show, that you have been waiting all week for can finally start? Let us not forget those sweet nights that your parents would let you stay up later then normal to watch the grown-up shows. My, my, how have the times changed? There is no need to wait a week anymore for a new episode of your favorite show, it is all instantaneous at the touch or the click of a button. Plus you are no longer tied to that living room, you can watch your favorite show in the bathroom, at school or my favorite, while waiting for the dryer at the laundry mat. We now live in a society where people can choose to live in what I call, “The Netflix Alternative” a way of getting your television and movie entertainment at the tip of your finger on the internet. Yet, with this alternative to receiving our media comes an intrigued look into the world of internet entertainment. Looking into the differences between Netflix and regular television, the benefits and downfalls of instantaneous entertainment and what the future holds for Netflix and internet media as a whole, all are studied and deducted as we consider “The Netflix Alternative”. And we will continue after this commercial break.
Well, that is something that you don’t have to hear while watching Netflix. On a personal level, I know I have spend my fair share of hours wasting away in front of my computer or iPad watching the latest popular TV show. Yet, I have to wonder to myself, ‘where did Netflix come from’? At times it seems like it was a random phenomenon that just rose from absolutely no where and took over the entertainment industry. With its now having reached over 40 million subscribers worldwide (1), Netflix has grown to be one of the most successful dot-com ventures of all time and all growing from its start in 1997 with founders Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings(2). With a hard learned lesson of not returning a movie on time and receiving a $40 late fee, the workings of Netflix began and grew into a successful idea and with a goal “to build a company that would grow rapidly without losing its entrepreneurial spirit in the process” (3) Netflix would achieve the high success that it has grown into today.
With the Netflix culture, we see many differences between watching your entertainment on a TV and watching it on your laptop. The question arises, “What is the difference?” If it is all just the same television and movies then what is the difference where and how someone would watch it? First and foremost, the answer is that it is the future. “I think there’s a huge category of people who will watch movies on laptops,” says Hastings. “And remember, it’s not the laptop of today. Think of the laptop in five years. People will continue to want to watch movies on TV. No doubt about it. But laptop screens are improving. And young people are living on laptops.” (4)
Overall the guts and glory of Netflix lies within the customer and whether or not they are satisfied. Many benefits give that customer the satisfaction they seek with the shows and movies they wish to watch. Firstly, the cost is cheaper than most T.V. services, for the streaming option alone it costs roughly 8 bucks a month. That is in comparison to the $40 dollars a month that other services like AT&T and Comcast might charge. With that low monthly cost also comes the great appreciation for lack of commercials and the feeling of freely being able to watch your weekly shows all within several hours. No ads and instant gratification? Sign me up. Even if you had the option where you received DVDs in the mail, it does not have that instantaneous feel to it but the great benefit of receiving your movies by mail is that you are not charged a late fee for it. You rent a movie and can rent it for as long as you wish, just make sure to send it back eventually.
Yet, with millions of options and countless hours of streaming material, the downfalls of Netflix do surround the fact that there is more of an encouragement for less social interaction among peers. Going home, getting on your computer and watching an entire season of “American Horror Story” doesn’t really pose any threats to your physical health but makes me question how one could physically allow 10+ hours to pass all while sitting around and watching a TV show. Another downfall of Netflix would be the fact that someone who wants to stay up to date on the shows and movies that are out could not solely watch what was on Netflix because it lagged in timing with what was on the air at the present time. A person would have to wait for the show to be released on DVD to be able to enjoy it online or to receive it by mail. In the matter of all things, a small inconvenience compared to having to pay more money but having to wait puts the idea of instant gratification into play and questions the thought of how dire the need of it really is to the viewer.
Internet entertainment has grown to be the dominant of the media world. Not just Netflix but companies and services such as Hulu, “a website and over-the-top subscription service offering ad-supported on-demand streaming video of TV shows, movies, webisodes and other new media. (5) As well as non-internet based companies like Redbox, “that specializes in the rental of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and video games via automated retail kiosks” (6) have helped and encouraged this domination in the ways that consumers receive their entertainment. With the growth and the future of the entertainment industry in this market, such companies like Blockbuster have seen their downfalls and met their demise due to not being able to keep up in the rough waters of the new internet craze. If this is the view into the future of entertainment, then what is next? What can we expect to come out of Netflix in the next ten years and what can we expect to see as a society? Will this affect greatly how we evolve and separate us even further into a world of binary codes? Or will Netflix meet up with his old friend Blockbuster in the trenches of ‘what was and what used to be’ after itself being replaced by a new and shinier conglomerate of companies that takes over the industry in the next wave of internet media?
The future of Netflix is anything but vague, whether the company does end up in the trenches or not one thing is clear, that Netflix will be one hell of a success. Until that dark day that the company goes belly up, the future is still bright for Netflix and will continue to make an impact on how we watch our favorite TV shows and movies. For the generations that follow after us, what new traditions will conspire out of internet media? Will there still be those days of gathering in front of the T.V. in the living room with your family? Or perhaps we will have new traditions of watching new episodes of “The Voice” on the moon? Whatever conspires next, let’s hope that with the new ways of watching entertainment that it also encourages new traditions of binge watching T.V. series with friends, or having Netflix movie viewing parties. Luckily for those living in “The Netflix Alternative”, the future holds many opportunities to experience and appreciate our entertainment instantly and gluttonously for many years to come.
Author: Carolyn Noe
Carolyn is the Founder & Executive Director of Super Heroines, Etc. She is a recent transplant to Cincinnati and lives with her husband and her dog. She regularly nerds out about Parks & Rec, Firefly, and Pride & Prejudice.