Television was first created in the early 1900s and since then it has developed immensely over time. Screen sizes have gotten larger, the transformation from black and white to color was made and the quality and definition of the content being shown has just gotten better and better. Now, in 2014, less people are watching television shows on their actual televisions or they are at least not watching them at the time that they are being aired. People have been using different and new forms of technology to record shows and watch them at different times or they have been using Internet connected devices to stream their shows whenever it is convenient for them. In the future people may not even have cable television or even a television in general. The way content is produced will be changed to fit the new platforms of viewing it and television will continue to develop just like it always has.
Recently users have been streaming their favorite television shows through Internet connected devices. These devices include cell phones, laptops, tablets, gaming consoles, and much more. The use of the internet to stream video “provides consumers with unprecedented freedom and control over what video programming they can watch as well as when and where they can watch it” (Hyman 1). People who only have cable television are only able to watch a television show whenever it is being aired. This “problem” was fixed by the invention of DVR which allows users to record their favorite shows through their cable provider then watch the show on their television whenever it was convenient for them. Now, with the development of internet streaming, people don’t even want to do that because they find that there are even more convenient ways to watch their shows when and where they want to watch them. By connecting to the internet users are able to stream television shows through their phones and tablets through services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. This allows the users to watch their shows on the train or while waiting to be seated at a restaurant. The users no longer need a television to watch television shows. With this development researchers are beginning to realize that “convenience trumps quality” when it comes to television (Oran 1). They are finding that users don’t mind watching shows on smaller screens at a lower quality because it is more convenient for them to do so. They viewers and users accept this lower quality not only because of the convenience but also because they are paying less money for a lot more content. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars a month for cable, a person can pay only eight dollars a month to have access to the entire library of content on Netflix.
The biggest problem with internet streaming, or the internet in general, is stalls and buffering while trying to watch your programs. This can be frustrating to the users especially if they are streaming a live event. Programs like sports always need to be watched in real time. If you are not watching it while it is happening there is almost no point in watching it at all. Once you know the results of a game there is no need to watch the event itself.
Netflix was first created in 1997 as a website for online movie rentals and in 1999 it launched its subscription service which offered unlimited movie rentals for a monthly subscription rate. It was not until 2007 that Netflix introduced streaming. This streaming service allowed users to watch television shows and movies instantly on their own computers. Then from the years 2008 to 2010 Netflix began to partner with different electronic companies so they could begin to stream Netflix through Xbox360, Nintendo Wii and Play Station 3. Netflix also became available on all Apple devices. These devices include iPhones, iPads and iPod touches (pr.netflix.com). As of the year 2013, “over 23 million consumers in the United States use the Netflix streaming service on more than 900 different types of internet-connected devices, including game consoles, mobile phones and tablets” (Hyman 1).
People believe that Netflix is leading to the demise of traditional video distribution platforms and networks. Rather than these platforms and networks disappearing completely I believe that they will adapt as the technologies grow in popularity. This can already be seen with some networks. A few examples of this are HBO Go and Comcast Streampix. Instead of being terminated by these new forms of technology and media, these companies adapted. This has always been the case in the world of television and similar technologies. As the technology advances the platforms and networks adapt and advance with it.
Netflix can definitely been seen as a positive for the future of television. Netflix puts full seasons of television series onto their website for its users to stream. This helps extend the popularity of all of the shows that are on the website. For example, by Netflix having the first four seasons of the show Mad Men available to its users it helped drive a 20 percent increase in the amount of people watching the season five opening episode which was aired on television. (Kompare 80) Mad Men is only one of many examples that can be used. The show Breaking Bad became extremely popular after it was added to the list of available shows on Netflix. Netflix is also capable of helping its users find content that suits their individual preferences. Netflix takes count of what television shows and movie are being viewed through each of its users accounts. They then use this information to suggest similar television shows and films. This helps make the user find more content that they are interested in. It also benefits Netflix because by suggesting similar television shows they are keeping their users using the site and watching more shows.
The Arrested Development series aired on FOX from the year 2003 until 2006 when it was cancelled. Then, in May of 2013 after the show had be off the air for seven years, Netflix premiered the fourth season of Arrested Development. The relaunch of this show was very successful. This relaunch “cost Netflix around $45 million to make”(Giuffre 1). The relaunching of the show was also a great marketing strategy with “Netflix clearly targeting the extended online community already present for the show rather than trying to compete with the original Fox broadcast” (Giuffre 1). Netflix started a competition against fans to come up with a new tagline for the show. The winning tagline was ‘We’ve unmade a huge mistake’ which was a direct reference to a catchphrase from the original show. In just one line, “it demonstrated that the internet could be used by fans not only to lament the problems of mainstream broadcasts, but also to see those problems fixed” (Giuffre 1). Netflix also showed flashbacks to the original show and would add watermarks on them to make them almost look like a fan-made video. This shows that the show has always had an online fan base and it allowed for the audience to be creative on the internet. Besides using Arrested Development to gain popularity online, Netflix also “set-up fourth wall breaking stunts like real life Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana stand” (Giuffre 2). The banana stand is an on going joke in the show since the first episode in season one. Netflix placed real life banana stands in places like Times Square in New York City and near the London Eye in England. This was a smart move by Netflix because it helped the show gain even more popularity. People who were fans of the original show were becoming informed that the show was returning on Netflix and people who had never seen the show were gaining awareness of it. Arrested Development then ended up being nominated for three primetime Emmy Awards in the year 2013.
In the year 2013 Netflix aired two of its own original series. These two shows were Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. The first airing of House of Cards was the first time such a high quality production had ever been debuted over the internet. Both of these shows gained instant popularity. Netflix added the entire first season at one time. This gave the viewers the opportunity to binge watch the show if they wanted to or watch it at whatever pace they would like. Seeing how successful these shows have been leads me to believe that Netflix and other online streaming companies are going to be creating more of there own original content to air only on their streaming services. Also, since every episode is being distributed all at once, I believe that the way the content is being created is going to change. The creators of these new shows may take a different approach to storytelling than the writers of a show that airs one new episode each week. For example, In the show Orange is the New Black the viewer can tell that “what happens in the show is far less important than why” (Giuffre 2). Also, storytelling will have to change because on services like Netflix there are no commercial breaks. This means that even with occasional spoilers the integrity of the viewing experience of the show will not be ruined. This is also going to change the way people talk about the shows they watch. If the entire season is available at once, then all of the fans of the show may be at different points of the show at different times. I believe that Orange is the New Black is becoming successful very quickly because the writers understand how to take advantage of the lack of commercial breaks. While watching the show you can see that they leave “the ending of each episode feeling like rich plot markers rather than cheap cliffhangers” (Giuffre 2). With all of these new streaming services I believe that more services are going to start creating their own original content. After the success of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards it would be silly for Netflix to not continue making its own original series.
Netflix has such a wide variety of programs that it is sometimes difficult now to find other people who are watching the same show as you. In early television, many people only had about three channels to choose from. This meant that almost everyone was watching the same shows, so everyone had something in common. This gave people something to talk about and socialize about. Now with Netflix thousands of shows are being offered to its users each day. With so many options it is hard to find another person watching the same show as you or at least at the same point in the show as you are. Therefore people aren’t going to be able to talk about television as easily as they used to. Either people will be afraid of spoilers or they will have no idea what you are talking about because they have never even heard of the show you are watching.
Besides streaming, I believe we will also see changes in the way we interact with our devices. Currently, we use a remote control that allows you to move on a grid, up and down or right and left. This is how we access all of the content on our televisions. I believe that in the future, these remotes will be replaced with intuitive, visually interesting user interfaces. In the future people will be using touch, motion and voice to control their televisions and other devices. You can already see this developing with gaming consoles. To watch Netflix on my television I just have to say “Xbox go to Netflix” and Netflix appears on my television. Also, the remote controls that we currently use are going out of style. Personally, I use an app on my phone or iPad to change the channels on my television and to look and the channel guide and other information.
Television and the way we view it is constantly changing and developing. Eventually no one will be using actual cable providers to watch the shows they like. Before we know it everyone will be using streaming services to view shows they like whenever it is convenient for them, even if that means watching it at a lower quality on a smaller screen. Some television networks may adapt to the change and start creating there own streaming services, while other networks may just disappear. As more services start to create there own content we will definitely see a major change in storytelling throughout the shows.
Giuffre, Lizz. “Netflix: New Media in New Spaces.” Metro 179 (2014): 126-27. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 9 Dec. 2014.
Hyman, David. “Testimony of David Hyman, General Counsel, Netflix, INC. Hearing on “The Future of Video”” Journal of Current Issues in Media & Telecommunications 5.2 (2013): 119-20. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2014.
Kompare, Derek. “Reruns 2.0: Revising Repetition for Multiplatform Television.” Journal of Popular Film & Television 38.2 (2010): 79-83. Academic Search Premeir. Web. 7 Dec. 2014.
Oran, David. “Technical Perspective: Video Quality Assessment in the Age of Internet Video.” Communications of the ACM 56.3 (2013): 90. Business Source Complete. Web. 9 Dec. 2014.