Netflix and Impact

On August 29th, 1997 the video sharing company Netflix was founded. The creation of this video service seemingly uneventful at the time would bring forth extreme impact in the future, not for what it was then, but for what it introduced in 2007; digital streaming video services that you could access at home – no CD, VHS, or other form of device required aside from your television and remote. This new streaming service would revolutionize not only the video sharing industry but the television industry as well. This is seen through impacts on the viewer and audience, as well as impact on the content created and the entirety of the entertainment industry.

Impact Through Audience

Netflix Logo

Netflix has over 52 million paying subscribers in the United States alone, allowing a culture to grow around the streaming service. Staying up all night binge watching the release of that new show, “Netflix and Chill”, racing to finish seasons, and the ability to watch preferred shows, at preferred times (without added fees or micro transactions clouding these choices) have been the new culture that surrounds Netflix and the ability to binge watch.

These changes can either be viewed as positive or negative based on perspective, through the lens of consumer the ability to choose between products has increased with Netflix binge culture. When it comes to regular television, the executives decide the schedule for their programs that they have license to, micro transactions are an option if you want to watch something specific at a specific time or have specific to specific channels, however that would be on top of the subscription fee that has already been paid for basic access, with Netflix that choice of what to watch when is fully in the hands of the consumer.

Netflix will release full seasons of a show at once, which regular television does not, the impact this has is one of viewership – with regular television a bad episode may mean the difference between your viewer tuning in next week, whereas with Netflix even if you are unsure or find an episode annoying or irrelevant if can be skipped, returned to, or played through to the next episode at the viewer’s discretion. These changes have allowed for the power to lie with the viewer instead of the company, which has allowed for Netflix’s increased popularity and exponential growth over the years.

Moreover, the negative impacts of binge watching culture can be contributed to a “need it now” generation in Millennials and their predecessors, Generation Z. Entitlement has been an issue in millennial culture, as with streaming, smart phones, and digital media the world has become one of instant gratification at the loss of patience. This as a long-term behavior can contribute to weakened or broken relationships, more conflicts, and eventually an inability to do things without assistance. To say Netflix makes people entitled would be egregious, however to say it cannot contribute in the slightest to these offenses would be ignorant.


The title screen of Netflix’s “Bright”.

Netflix’s first original series House of Cards first aired February 1st 2013, from there Netflix has created many different original series in differing genres and languages set in different places around the planet. Binge culture has allowed for two very important changes seen in Stream Only TV versus its televised counterpart.

Netflix originals are streaming on a commercial free platform, allowing a seamless flow in the media that has not been seen since 1941 when the first American commercial was run. Watching the media side by side the differences are quite stark as the clear pause or directional change in plot on Televised media does not happen in the Steaming media. For example when watching The Big Bang Theory there will be seemingly random title cards thrown in where it was intended commercials to be, regardless of whether or not a pause may seem adequate or necessary for the moment. The differences are jarring when watching both media as whole entities instead of broken apart by the intended commercial breaks.

The other major change can be seen in the content of the new stream only media. Through rating systems and other metrics Netflix has been able to use consumer data to more heavily influence what the content of their original series and movies are. 2017 Netflix Original Bright starting Will Smith is a feature length urban fantasy adventure action movie that tackles topics such as police brutality and racial profiling among other high-profile topics of the current day, the movie though disliked by critics was highly receptive to the public.

General Television however cannot make leaps as Bright and many of it’s predecessors have because of the way funding and time slots works in television. To get the funding and get a good time slot to run not only do they have to appeal to most of the public, but they also must appeal to advertisers. Advertisers may not be willing to risk pairing their product with a show that pushes the boundaries as those shows risk lost viewership as lost viewership equates to lost money. In this way the popularity of Netflix and the ability to binge watch the shows and movies they provide in their streaming service is in fact propelling the prowess and challenging the way the industry functions. Through these two changes; Netflix is bringing a lot of possibility and change to the media industry, allowing a break from the same tired stereotypes and reused unoriginal plot lines and bringing something new to the industry.

Entertainment Industry

As previously stated, Netflix is bringing possibility and change into the media and entertainment industry. Not only through content are changes under way but in how television is experienced. Micro transactions are included so consumers can watch precisely what they want when they want, as the Netflix system allows with its basic streaming package, that said those options often don’t come close to what Netflix has available, meaning in order to compete modern television’s hand is being forced to increase selections and make changes towards a more consumer friendly basis as Netflix already has. Some of the newer televisions are coming with a dashboard, it can be argued this is to compete with computer streaming, however it allows cable to use the same dashboard system that Netflix already has. The Netflix dashboard adds to the consumer experience by showing popular shows, things you may like based on previous shows you have enjoyed, along with a system that allows you to rate positively or negatively shows that you have seen.

Along with regular television there are also other streaming services, one of the big-name competitors being YouTube. YouTube has worked on a previous system for it’s entire existence, allowing content creators to post videos of any content and using an advertising system to monetize views, thus paying the creators. Due to the popularity of streaming services that have higher production value, YouTube has created YouTube Red, where the consumer pays for a subscription which comes with three perks, 1) all content advertisement free 2) the ability to play videos in the background when the phone is on standby, and 3) the ability to access the premium YouTube Red content. Focusing on the third point, YouTube has had high profile content creators create items like television shows, such as Joey Graceffa’s Escape the Night which stars a slew of high profile content creators in a reality television style “who done it” murder mystery. The show isn’t groundbreaking, and the plot has been overused beyond repair, but it is still following in Netflix’s footsteps by creating it’s own version of the streaming service, despite YouTube Red still being in it’s infancy as a sub-platform having only been created in 2015.

On top of YouTube, Netflix and Hulu have grown up and into adolescence competing against one another. Though not the exact same formula the two share similarities, both posting and creating original content, both have a subscription viewing base, the only real difference being the fact that Hulu has a non-subscription option where you can access the shows as long as you are watching the ads provided with the content. Netflix does not have this option, and therefore Hulu almost bridges the two new media. These are the three big name streaming services and so it makes sense that they would converge upon and share with one another as their new formula shapes the entertainment industry.

Title card of Escape the Night by Joey Graceffa (center).

The impact Netflix has had is enormous, and that should be celebrated, from the viewing choices and habits of consumers, to how the entertainment industry functions and what content it provides. Whether or not binge watching has or will become a blight on society is irrelevant compared to all the positive changes that the ability for streaming services have brought to consumers around the world.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Mzon

    I love Netflix, I adore it and cherish it. I like to binge watch series as I get more out of it when I can watch it several episodes at a time. The once a week viewing now seems to me like reading one chapter of a book every day. I get hooked on a story and want to keep watching or reading. I am truly interested in what the characters are going to do next or how they are doing to get out of the predicament they have got themselves into.

  2. paul

    I like Netflix because it lets me catch up on all those US shows I missed because I’ve never had Sky (beyond an ill advised few months trying the awful Now TV). But its content is very American. As such it will never replace the Beeb. But I think the two could continue to develop a good partnership, especially now Amazon have pretty much given up on their own video on demand service and put everything behind a further paywall (even after you’ve subscribed!).

    • h0mer

      Not impressed with Netflix. Had it for 6 months and got rid. Just repeats of repeats. 20 years ago we had 4 channels but there was fresh and generally entertaining content. Now I would seriously consider getting rid of the TV and the constant rubbish repeats that are played ad infinitum on all channels.

  3. Lyndia

    I’ve cancelled my cable package in favour of Netflix. I can’t be the only one.

    • alexpaulsen

      I have too!

      • august

        I canceled years ago. “cable” has been worthless for over half a decade and now it’s just holdout people from my generation and above keeping it going. Even these people I speak of drop sat and cable at a higher and higher rate each year. The time they have left is the only argument left not “can they do it”. I was born in 80 btw

    • Echol

      Yep, me too.

  4. IVEE

    I don’t currently subscribe to Netflix although I have done in the past.

    • Carlyn

      At the moment they are mainly at the TV movie end of the spectrum with a few bigger budget films.

    • G0T

      I watched unabomber , 8 episodes in one go , exceptional viewing . True it isn’t an Hollywood blockbuster , but it was as engaging as one

  5. Lue

    Perhaps film studios will emulate Netflix?

  6. loma

    There’s an awful lot of choice out there. Possibly too much for the market to stand.

    • Orr

      It will all consolidate down to a handful of players, who will grow to dominate the whole market. Subscribers are already fed up with content being scattered all over the place. Each subscriber will opt for between one to three services, but they will be the same one to three services, the biggest with the most content. That will create a virtuous cycle for the very few that are biggest and a vicious cycle for everyone else. Above the cutoff line: Netflix, Amazon and maybe two others, whoever gets their act together fastest.

      • Mai Gill

        Netflix is leading the pack. Amazon have shot themselves in the foot by putting everything worth watching behind a paywall so that even subscribers have to pay extra on top of what they’ve already paid. Everyone I know who has a Prime subscription is ditching it when the latest 12 months runs its course. Amazon got greedy. Now TV could move into its place if it guarantees content is available for longer, not just the odd week here or there. Until then, Netflix has the best model.

  7. Anh

    Having had Netflix for about two years and watched pretty much everything worth watching, there just isn’t enough good, new content to keep me off the networks entirely.

    So for me it’s just another TV channel, that occasionally puts out some goodies.

  8. Cheer

    The next step is with movies and the big 5 studios (Warner Bros, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Sony) creating their own branded steaming service to release the films they produce in a similar manner to what Netflix and Amazon have started.

    Movie theatre ticket sales are at record lows, expensive sequels are financially flopping left, right and centre and going to the movies is becoming too expensive for families. In time, going to the theatre will become more of a rarity and most will watch films from home on its release.

    Studios and theatre chains are resisting this model for now, but its nearly inevitable that this becomes the norm given declining profits for big studios and the possibility of cutting out the 50% profit takers (the cinema chains)

    • Sari

      Disney seems content to do deals with Netflix. They have an exclusive deal for new content with Netflix, US-only now, but I could easily see that being a trial run for eventual global rollout.

      As for the rest, they may try but frankly it would be too little, too late. The streaming wars are already over, and the current market leaders – just a handful – will end up growing to win the whole shebang.

      Netflix is already too far ahead to catch and Amazon is insulated by having a unique business model (video just being a way to attract eyeballs to their real business of selling & shipping goods). HBO and Hulu have the edge for rounding out the winner’s circle. Who else even has a shot? Maybe Google or Apple could buy their way in, but the question is, is it a smart way to spend their money?

      Movie theaters are doing just fine globally. The market favors superhero/space opera action flicks, but those are doing just fine. Anything below that level, the midlevel movie and the indie art film, are endangered. That type does make sense to debut only on streaming, with no theatrical release.

      But streaming is really about TV series, because that’s what locks in subscribers, knowing there’s a next episode to see and a next season to wait for. Meanwhile, the services just need to keep showing you new seasons of shows you already like, to keep your money till next year rolls around.

  9. H9ME

    Netflix is ok, but there’s an awful lot of nothing on there.

  10. An engaging and well-written article. Traditional movie/TV lending chains like Blockbuster likely couldn’t see the monster Netflix was destined to become. I definitely like Netflix because of the diversity of content and the ease of access. One drawback for me with these streaming sites though is that I almost feel overwhelmed by “too much” content to choose from. I’m never entirely sure which titles I should commit myself to and I feel I might even miss out on gems because of this information overload.

  11. I am against Netflix in principle; they want to have a monopoly on all of the television and film content we consume. The more people cut the cord the closer they come to achieving a monopoly. It’s insidious, and people don’t seem to appreciate, or care, what the ramifications are if all of the media they consume is produced by one entity.

    • alexpaulsen

      I’m sure many care, but I also know many aren’t able to afford the egregious prices of cable anymore and prefer Netflix as an affordable option to save money.

  12. Netflix is a great platform and a boon for consumers of entertainment industry. But it has other social and moral implications which needs to be addressed.

  13. Valene

    There hasn’t been anything much worth watching on Netflix since Better Call Saul… Time for a break.

    • blockner

      Oh, please! How To Get Away With Murder, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Crossing Jordan, The Fall, Bitten, Haven, Lost Girl, Hemlock Grove, Crossing Lines, The Following, Hinterland, Broadchurch, The Gates, Helix, The Returned, Sherlock, Death in Paradise, Torchwood, Residue, etc, etc.

  14. Sure Netflix is great, but what are the implications on the whole entertainment industry? Reality TV anyone! ich!

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