Online streaming has greatly impacted the world of television over the past 10 years.
The majority of television shows still continues to expand over the course of months, with weekly episodes. Yet platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Xfinity TV, HBO Now, Amazon and even YouTube have changed the game for television. Among this list also includes television networks that have created online websites which viewers can access and stream tv shows. These companies allow viewers to binge watch entire seasons of episodes on their own time. This concept is known as binge watching, or the binge watching culture, which we have adapted into our society.
Two of the most well-known platforms that allow access to online streaming include Hulu and Netflix. Hulu was established in March of 2007, while Netflix was first founded in August of 1997. During the late 1990s and early 2000s in it’s formative years, Netflix was originally created to rent movies on DVD. By 2007, Netflix moved into online streaming. In the 2010s, Netflix grew into a network, airing original content and television series. The network began hosting it’s own series in early 2013, with the first Netflix original House of Cards. Now, even YouTube hosts their own original television series that consumers have access to with a subscription to Youtube Red.
Access to binge watching allows audience members the privilege of catching up on their favorite shows if they fall behind. Viewers also have the option to watch multiple episodes if available on programing sites such as Netflix or Hulu.
I remember growing up, sitting down at 4 o’clock on the dot to watch Full House or Gilmore Girls. As a teen, I recall watching whatever was on MTV, even if I wasn’t interested in the program. MTV established one of the few channels that offered programs free from infomercials at 2:30 a.m. It kept viewers mildly entertained, namely audience members in their teens and early 20s during. This period of the early 2000s was before the convenience of Netflix and Hulu became available through devices such as laptops and iPads.
Now, individuals have the ability to access their favorite shows anytime, day or night, at the cost of $7 per month. This also offers economic benefits as well as convenience, providing viewers with a cheaper option than cable packages.
This new age of binge watching questions whether there is a loss of climatic build-up for viewers. Could the lack of on-screen suspense be the result of having access to watch a whole season any time the individual chooses? Audience members can now set their own pace, establishing a sense of control while watching their favorite shows.
However, this new age of total access to constantly watch our favorite programs also brings into question the quantity of television produced.
Is there a greater need to produce more because viewers have accessibility to watch more? How many television shows are produced now compared to 30 years ago? Reports state that television networks such as HBO and MTV aimed to diversify their programming during the 1990s. HBO, also known as home box office, originally intended to offer movies exclusively to viewers. Their aim was to provide individuals with the appeal of a home theater. Similarly, MTV, known as music television, also produced one type of content during the network’s establishment: music videos. MTV strictly aired music videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was the primary content and intent of the network’s programing that monopolized the 1980s.
One example of a booming area in television that continues to produce numerous shows is the crime/investigative genre in television. Some examples of crime-related television shows originating over the past 20 years that sustains programming with new episodes include: The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Bones, Criminal Minds, Chicago P.D., NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, Hawaii Five-O, Law and Order: SVU.
However, according to britannica.com, the criminal genre in television was considered to be inappropriate at the time. During the 1990s, NYPD Blue received criticism by adult figures.
“Parents, teachers, and religious groups complained that network television was no longer appropriate for family viewing. This became a major on-going refrain in the 1990s.”
At that point, television was evolving. The shared, family-friendly experience that television originally intended to be during the 1940s and 1950s was changing.
Networks welcomed the diversification of programming and television content. As a result, viewers could see the real, raw words and actions that mimic the world around us. Television is no longer set in this dream land that falsely portrayed perfect lives, as seen in the Cleaver clan and the Anderson family.
Now, the diversification of television is shown through its platforms in addition to its content.
The accessibility and convenience of online streaming is a privilege that we just can’t deny.