It’s hard to remember a time without Netflix. Streaming sites have been churning out fantastic shows that rival Hollywood productions for years now, to the point that Netflix is now a verb.
With the colossal variation in TV shows nowadays, a brand new television experience has been created — one that is driven completely by the consumer. Few binge watchers realize how revolutionary this idea is in terms of the television landscape.
There were once very limited options available for fans of television shows. At one point in history, most every home only had three channels to choose from. Up until five years ago, the concept of binge watching was completely unknown. Many people thought it ridiculous to consume 22 hours of television in one or two sittings.
Today’s generation is simply spoiled with options. Not only are there thousands of channels designed to cater to all sorts of demographics, but there are also websites full of TV shows, old and new, to discover. Missed the first season of “Supergirl?” Don’t worry — sign up for Netflix and you can catch up just in time.
Remember when shows were played once and only once? Now, if you miss an episode, you can catch up at your leisure. You can even do it on the go if there’s no TV in sight.
But with all these advancements come drawbacks as well. With the consumer driven mentality of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, some great shows will only be discovered if the viewer chooses to subscribe and watch it. That was certainly the case back in the day, but if you were channel surfing and stumbled upon a cool show, you’d want to see more and get hooked. That’s virtually non-existent in today’s world.
The problem with this new method is that some viewers could miss a truly fantastic series. As a result, that show, which took thousands of hours of time and effort, might underperform.
A prime example of this is the cult series “Firefly.” When it aired in 2002, the show drew very poor viewership, leading to its cancellation. But when the show hit DVD, people discovered the show was actually great and it gained a huge following years after its end. This is the kind of success story that Netflix would have greatly benefitted from.
With great TV power comes great TV responsibility, and today’s viewers certainly have more power than ever before. That power is both a blessing and a curse. But one thing is for sure — TV is thriving now and we live in a television world where anything is possible.
Bradley Burgess can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org