Netflix is revolutionizing television culture and is making a case that cable is no longer a necessity. People enjoy watching television shows, they like it more when they can watch whatever episode they want whenever they want. That is what Netflix offers consumers. There are already statistics showing that cable subscribers are on the downfall. It is only a matter of time until cable, like VHS, is old news. Netflix is all-around winning viewers over: there is a monetary incentive, exclusive content, and a different viewing experience that people love about streaming Netflix.
Financially, Netflix is a better option for people who watch television. It is far more costly to have cable services than it is to pay a small rate each month for Netflix. American cable subscribers pay around $80 for a subscription a month; Netflix costs about $10. (Is Netflix, 2013) Many people are now buying smart televisions or Internet connected televisions, which come with Netflix built into the TV. One would still need a subscription, but this shows that Netflix is becoming very prevalent. “’Cord nevers,’ are youngsters who start their own households without a cable subscription, and who may never get one.” (Is Netflix, 2013) I may very well be a “cord never.” Currently having Netflix and using it excessively, it is hard for me to divvy up the money to pay for cable when I get most of the shows I want already. People like me are going to continue the decline in cable subscriptions. Craig Moffett, an analyst who covers the sector, “reckons that around 900,000 households in America have cut the cord on pay-TV.” (Is Netflix, 201) Cable viewing is clearly diminishing; it will be interesting to see if cable can do anything to slow down this trend.
House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Lillyhammer, and Arrested Development. Instead of regularly airing episodes every week, per usual, Netflix altered the norm. Netflix now releases all episodes at one time for viewers to watch on their own time. Another deviation from the norm is that Netflix shows do not follow a specific time frame for each episode. Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix says, “If you watched Arrested Development none of those episodes has the same running time – some were 28 minutes, some 47 minutes. I’m saying take as much time as you need to tell the story well. You couldn’t really do that on linear television because you have a grid, commercial breaks and the like.” (Jeffries, 2013) Netflix including their own shows really added something special to their video service. Now, not only can you watch your favorite television shows on Netflix, but you can also watch exclusive shows only released to the “lucky” people of Netflix.
The biggest reason Netflix is as successful and popular as it is, is due to its different viewing experience in comparison to regular television. With regular television you are confined to the area of the television, there are time frames, other shows competing against each other, and the want to watch more of your favorite shows. Ted Sarandos saw that people always wanted to watch more of a show that they were enjoying. Sarandos says, “before, they (people) would use VCRs to collect episodes and view them whenever they wanted. And, more importantly, in whatever doses they wanted. Then DVD box sets and later DVRs made that self-dosing even more sophisticated.” (Jeffries, 2013) Sarandos believes he is just fulfilling people’s insatiable need to watch their favorite show.
This insatiable need to watch shows has lead to the creation of binge watching. In essence, Netflix allows their customers to watch their favorite show from episode one until the last episode in one sitting. That may be a little dramatic, but it does help paint a picture of how viewing habits have changed due to Netflix. This, plus the ability to watch Netflix wherever you are: home, car, airport, school, and work can lead to very interesting and addictive viewing habits.
Netflix uses specific algorithms in order to determine taste preferences and collect data. John Jurgensen writes, “Executives say they found a strikingly consistent pattern in the pace at which people binge: In general, about half the viewers studied finished a season (up to 22 episodes) within one week.” (Jurgensen, 2013) That is a lot of television viewing and a major reason why people prefer having the whole season released at once. Ted Sarandos said, “Our viewing data shows that the majority of streamers would actually prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace.” (Jurgensen, 2013) It seems clear that the majority of people love how Netflix is revolutionizing the way they watch television.
Cable has a tough fight ahead of itself, but the future is not entirely grim. Cable has been smart in that it does not allow consumers to watch current episodes; those are released on cable first and then later added onto Netflix when the season is over. Cable also still has the rights to sporting events which many cable users, myself included, use on a regular basis.
Cable is going to have to thrive on sports and special events. Ted Sarandos believes, “Broadcast television will become more event based. When I was growing up, on Friday night Evel Knieval would be jumping things and we’d be waiting to see if he died. Just a couple weeks ago, Discovery channel broadcasted a guy tight-rope walking across the Grand Canyon and they got their biggest ratings ever.” (Jeffries, 2013). Many sport networks still do very well because those are events people want to watch. When regular television can be skipped to watch later, there is no need to stop important tasks to view your show live.
Netflix is all-around winning consumers over: there is a monetary incentive, exclusive content, and a different viewing experience that people love about streaming Netflix. They are revolutionizing television to fit into every person’s own personal schedule, style (binge viewing), and environment. Cable has taken the right steps to slow down the takeover process, but it may just be a matter of time. Netflix fits the needs of all television viewers, so if one has not jumped on the bandwagon yet, it might be time for them to reconsider.
Is Netflix Killing Cable Television. 2013. The Economist. 26 August, 2013. http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/08/economist-explains-17
Jeffries, Stuart. 2013. Netflix’s Ted Sarandos: The ‘Evil Genius’ Behind a TV Revolution. The Guardian 30 December, 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/dec/30/netflix-evil-genius-tv-revolution-ted-sarandos
Jurgensen, John. 2013. Streaming: Netflix Studies Heavy Viewing Habits: The Binge Project. The Wall Street Journal. 13 December, 2013. Retrieved from global.factiva.com
Manly, Lorne. 2013. Jenji Kohan, 44 The Televisionary. The New York Times. 29 December, 2013. Retrieved from global.factiva.com