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. 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. 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!).

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

      • 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

    • Yep, me too.

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

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

    • 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. Perhaps film studios will emulate Netflix?

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

    • 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. 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. 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)

    • 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. 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. 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!

  15. There’s no denying the impact Netflix has had on the entertainment industry and culture, even. I like them better than the networks trying to control what we see. Their original content has been great for the most part and they’ve done a great job catering to all different tastes.

  16. Emily

    I think anything that allows young creatives a door that opens up to a new audience for them is a wonderful thing. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for new filmmakers to work their way into the network’s offices in the past. Nowadays there are so many different ladders they are able to climb thanks to the Netflix’s and Hulu’s.

    Personally, I am not a binger. Call it my inner old lady but the idea of watching episodes for more than 3-hours is terrifying. After a certain amount of time, I can’t imagine my brain is actually taking in all the creative aspects of film and television. I feel it all becomes moving lights, dialogue that I’m not really listening to, and action sequences.

    But hey, I love the endless catalog that we are all able to open with a push of a button. That’s truly amazing.

  17. Munjeera

    Netflix has given more power to viewers. Always good!

  18. lucyviolets

    This was a really interesting article! I’m glad that streaming sites, like Netflix, are more common. Yet, as you’ve mentioned with the ‘releasing all of the episodes’ habit it has, it’d be intriguing to see what positive or negative impact that has on viewers (as often, the appeal of shows, is to be hooked in and wait for interesting plot to develop, rather than rush straight through).

  19. I still remember the days when the DVD was sent to you through the mail. It was akin to Russian roulette, waiting as the disc loaded in the DVD player to see if the disc was readable. I cannot count how many times we could not watch a movie we had been waiting to because someone hadn’t treated the disc with care. Now with Netflix being able to stream movies and television shows there is no fear of poor quality except for the occasional Wi-Fi connectivity issue.

    While it is great that Netflix has given us seasons of a television show at a time, it tends to cause a great number of viewers to feel the urge to binge watch to get a leg up on their friends. I fear Netflix’s viewers are incapable of practicing moderation.

  20. This is very informational. Well written. I am a proud binger, so it was good fro me to see the other side.

  21. Stephanie M.

    Interesting article. I have a few shows I like to keep up with via Netflix, and I do love the commercial-free aspect. That said, I like your commentary on the fact that full seasons are released at once, leading to binge-watching and perhaps dissatisfaction. As a postscript, I also had no idea Netflix was that old (1997? Wow).

  22. HangedMaiden

    I think this could have used another thorough read before being posted. I find it difficult to follow the argumentation, partially because it relies on unsubstantiated and often nonsensical generalisations (e.g. “a ‘need it now’ generation in Millennials and their predecessors, Generation Z” both provides a questionable characterisation of Millenials and confuses their successors with their predecessors) and partially because there are so many errors and awkward expressions throughout (e.g. “have specific to specific channels” is clearly missing a fragment; “the negative impacts of binge watching culture can be contributed to” is clearly confusing attributed with contributed; and so on).

  23. Netflix is great and convenient but it’s crazy how much time a person can waste while binge watching shows. I’m definitely guilty of throwing away a night or two.

  24. Netflix does have many beneficial characteristics and a smart business plan. But in my opinion the fatal flaw is the binging option. While yes, you can skip ahead to the next episode, having an entire season finished in a weeks means you have to wait an entire year at the very least to wait for the new season. Due to millennials and Gen Z growing up with everything at their fingertips many lose patience in waiting so long for a new season to come out and some drop out completely. It’s like the same issue with weekly television series just for the newer generations.

  25. I think Netflix makes TV and movie experience democratic and more accessible.

  26. Netflix and other internet streaming services have greatly impacted how consumers watch there shows/movies and has allowed consumers to have greater choice. I personally have ditched cable due to its outrageous cost and little choice/diversity of content and have wholeheartedly supported online streaming services like Netflix.

  27. Interesting read. I never really think about the impacts of Netflix on alternative content providers 🙂

  28. YouTube is appealing because I’ve been able to watch it grow up from infancy. I like the concept of Youtube because creators are original, grassroots performers that are (generally) unhindered by a production company or producer. This allows content to be raw and not filtered through the ideologies or censors of others. The viewers choose who is popular, who is successful and who makes money. This pseudo-democratic form of viewer approved content is what makes Youtube so unique and interesting to me. Sure, you can down vote or up vote a video depending on your opinion of it. But raw viewership is what determines revenue, what determines popularity and what determines what content will be most viewed. In one way or another, whatever media we choose to consume en masse is what trends and what receives the spotlight to billions of viewers. That kind of power can’t be underestimated.

    As an artist, I’m incredibly interested in the way Netflix will change and revolutionize the entertainment industry. They are creating endless streams of quality content which means more designers, technicians, actors and storytellers from all walks of life will be needed! This changes the way artists can collaborate to bring their work to life. And with the rebirth of audio-entertainment (audio books, podcasts, etc.) there is even more room for content and artists to shine. Streaming has been a boon to the entertainment industry but will quite possibly be the death of television in the future. But is streaming a burgeoning field or is television slowly evolving into online streaming services? Only time will tell.

    See you space cowboy.

  29. I love netflix as I use it as my predominant entertainment platform. However I do feel limited when comparing Australian and American offerings.

  30. Netflix has created such an impact in our culture that it is considered that regular cable TV may go obsolete in the future not so far away. Netflix has revolutionized the way this generation watches series, anime, films, etc. Even I stopped watching regular cable TV!

  31. I was just thinking about this the other day, reflecting on the times when our family used to have the DVDs sent to our home. It is crazy how far this company has come. I am not sure of the validity of this statement, but I had heard Netflix is trying to work its way to original content only? I know they were working on well over fifty original series/movies just for 2018, which is a significant feat for one company to achieve. I wish I would have been old enough to buy Netflix stock when it launched.

  32. Netflix has shaken up TV and the digital entertainment industry like nothing before it. As a child in the 60’s and 70’s we endured TV in Australian closing down at 11pm and coming back to life at 7am. To compound this issue we were in the country so only had access to three channels. Becuase of this our choices were very limited and we basically watched what the free to air execs thought we wanted to.
    Fast forward to 2018 and we now have pay TV, streaming services such as Netflix, Stan, Amazon etc., free to air TV, YouTube to only name the ‘mainstream’. We also now have internet providers who all offer unlimited data at speeds that actually allow us to watch HD content without constant lag.
    The transformation over those short years has been dramatic. I can hardly wait to see what the 40 or so years will bring.

  33. Who are the owners of Netflix? Which is its agenda?

  34. Our relationship with television has changed dramatically since the introduction of streaming services. Netflix gives us the freedom to watch what we want, when we want, where we want. We no longer have to adhere to a strict FTA schedule. It has also lead to an increase in the consumption of television and as a result, binge-watching has emerged as a new and acceptable social practice!

  35. Great article documenting the history of Netlflix and it’s revolutionary and historic run. Interesting how you didn’t focus a common complaint about “over-saturation” as Netflix released hundreds of original content each year. I have listened to this complaint over and over again, and would add it to this article, only to defend the amount of content because it gives many more filmmakers the chance for their work to see light. Hollywood is such an enclosed circle, today, we see indie studios and streaming studios (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.) putting out and giving chances to young and upcoming filmmakers, as well as projects that just didn’t fit the status quo of Hollywood releases. This is why I think that the site is important, it’s giving creative control and a platform to artists who may not of had a chance otherwise.

  36. Netflix is great, but I truly miss the charm of renting a DVD. The whole process, the deliberation, even the plastic smell. I was lucky enough to experience the early 2000s of Blockbuster, so I caught some of that DVD-renting culture.

    What’s also different is that on Netflix, if I’m not really “feeling” a movie, I can just exit and pick a new one. However, renting a DVD? Hoo boy, you’re going to finish that no matter what.

  37. KiaraB

    Netflix really did change the industry. Cable TV is a dying trend, in my household we only have one box in our living room for family gatherings otherwise the television is used to stream. It’s a booming business that transformed society into what we are, the ‘need-it-now’ generation.

    Also, it’s evident how Netflix is using their services to cross platforms and gain more traction as seen by the use of YouTube stars as actors and other bigger name actors for their original series’ Netflix isnt even about streaming movies anymore, it’s about becoming invested in the amazing series’ that they continue to produce such as: 13 reasons why, Orange is the new black, House of cards and more.

    Netflix continues to outdo and surpass what cable television has to offer and that is what keeps subscribers paying – even after the price increase.

  38. Netflix is great and provides another option to see content I am interested in and relatively good value for money. Like anything, it’s good in moderation.

  39. I absolutely love Netflix!! It is such a great place to watch not only network TV but also TV shows created by Netflix! One of the things that I love most about Netflix is that the TV shows and movies that I watch on here I enjoy so much more than regular TV because of the fact that these TV shows and movies are willing and able to tackle topics and things that network television cant always do because of the stipulations they have to follow. I hope that Netflix will be around for awhile longer and keep producing some pretty awesome shows!

  40. Amanda

    Living in Canada, Netflix has a great amount less of content than in the United States. Although I like Netflix, it’s hard to find something worth watching once I pretty much watched all of my interests. On a business perspective, it was a great idea to embrace streaming shows and movies instead of hating it like a couple of years ago. Netflix will just continue to grow and I just hope Netflix Canada can add as much as the American Netflix
    Amazing job!

  41. I also believe Netflix has increased the amount of procrastination in our younger generation. This isn’t just Netflix’s fault, we are the ones that choose to binge watch 8 episodes of the latest show instead of that 2000 word history report… Haha. Also, Netflix now has started to release episodes like TV now, for example Riverdale season 2 was released as one episode every Thursday. If this trend continues it could be a negative for Netflix.

  42. I feel like Netflix has normalised the practice of binge watching- I find it practically impossible to JUST watch one episode of anything nowadays and I know I’m not the only one.

  43. I never thought I’d become so attached to Netflix because of its ease of use and lack of advertisement. It has some incredibly interesting documentaries. I hope we could see more educational short videos on there to be used in schools allowing teachers to browse videos without fearing exposing students to publicity.

  44. hwilkinson

    If Netflix had been around 15 years ago, we would have had 5 more seasons of Firefly.

  45. Yvonne Tapia
    Yvonne T.

    Something Netflix offers to think about is, how far is human nature willing to go in expanding its viewing horizons and to “unintentionally” eliminate already well-established broadcasting companies and formats (e.g., DVD’s). There is no question that some people rather watch things on their cell phone now, instead of with family or friends.

    • Yvonne Tapia
      Yvonne T.

      Another thing that would have been good to add to the article would have been on why Netflix was not immediately known when it began (1997), and how it changed. Overall, nice article!

  46. Netflix on demand is what is appealing to me as I often cannot stop to watch a show at the broadcasted time yet I still have an interest in the show.

  47. Joseph Cernik
    Joseph Cernik

    Any change in technology has some types of impact–and we are not always sure where that leads. At one time there was the family television. As we moved away from just the one TV to homes having several and then added in cable TV and VCR and DVD, inevitable change came. This is a good piece that helps to start the process of exploring where this next change will take us. In other words, it’s an article that should lead to more articles exploring the changes that come with new technology, or the uses of technology.

  48. Great article!

  49. Gemma Ferguson

    As someone who used to work at a Video Ezy (Australian DVD rental chain), I’ve certainly seen the negative impacts that have come from streaming services such as Netflix. It’s not as though we had no customers at all, but the majority of our renters didn’t seem to be entirely tech-savvy. Our regulars were either from the older generations (e.g. didn’t own computers) or the very young generation (e.g. too young to use computers/the internet), so you’re certainly correct in saying streaming is very popular with millennials. I agree that this has impacted us, and I think this impact is mostly negatively (although this isn’t to say there is no reason behind Netflix’s success – things change with time and Netflix was willing to give their viewers the online service we preferred over traditional renting).

  50. This was a really good article on a contemporary phenomena that is occurring during this generation. From its beginnings, to the way it has impacted the American and global culture it serves, Netflix along with YouTube and other streaming platforms have created consumer based services that give more authority and agency to consumers to determine the types and amounts of information they receive. Rather than waiting for a show to release a weekly episode and then talking about it with other fans, viewers now patiently wait for a series to be uploaded to these platforms to binge watch. With the accompanied reality of social media platforms, discussions and general attitudes of entertainment content are more widely and easily shared; allowing these companies.

    Most recently, Netflix began creating content more inclusive of diversity and multiple backgrounds as well as series with contemporary undertones that attract multiple audiences. In addition to this, celebrities such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and others have created contracts to create documentaries or other films which are later streamed. In the future, collaborations such as these might become more common to offer exclusive content and remain a relevant source of entertainment even when audiences still consume content from traditional cable services.

  51. Joseph Cernik

    An interesting essay. It would a good idea to think of a follow-up essay, addressing the continued impact of Netflix–particularly in a COVID-19 environment.

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