Netflix and the Transformation of How We View Television

Netflix logoI imagine that television executives haven’t been too glad about the ascension of alternative viewing options–they’re still reeling from cable– beyond the channels within their control, but I honestly think that if they’re able to see beyond their own parochial interests they’ll come to realize what a boon it can potentially be for them in the long term.

Reason being, I have discovered more new–to me–television shows via Netflix than I ever have via network television.   And what’s most interesting is that subject-wise they’re certainly more varied than anything that I would normally watch.

For instance, a few months ago I watched the first season of How To Get Away With Murder, a soapy Shondaland show that currently airs on ABC, and enjoyed it.  It’s not typically what I watch, but Netflix created an opportunity for me to view in a manner that isn’t how anyone thought I’d be watching television five or ten years ago.

And that’s binge-watching. Since I don’t have to wait an entire week for the next episode, there’s no time for me to lose interest (which is typically the case for series that I didn’t have any interest in in the first place) and it’s easier to becoming tangled in the narrative.

Right now I am watching The 100, from the CW.  I heard of it when it launched, but what little I knew of it there were too many attractive people running about to generate any interest.

But much to my surprise, despite the preponderance of a lots of attractive actors and actresses, the series is narratively strong and very much in the vein of movies like Divergent and The Hunger Games and (oddly enough) The Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, with a sprinkling of Logan’s Run.

Now here’s where the interesting part comes in.  As far as I know The 100 ended its run, but the thing is, so did Arrested Development and Community (the latter revived by Yahoo! before it was eventually cancelled).

What channels like Netflix and Hulu can offer is potentially a new life for series that have been cancelled, and that’s good for networks and viewers.

And that’s a victory of sorts, which the more traditional networks will have to learn to capitalize on.


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