Three Ways Netflix is Quietly Changing the World

 

 

Netflix is one of the biggest brands in media today, and has an ongoing program of expansion into new territories, as well as developing its own programming (and now, with the new Will Smith movie Bright, also high budget movies). It is easy to forget how this brand came into being – as an online service that sent DVDs out in the mail to its subscribers, way back in 2000 when both the DVD format, and mainstream internet were still finding their feet.

As the name suggests, movies were what Netflix originally dealt in, and it was perhaps the shift from this to TB ‘box sets’ just as much as advancing from a mail based service to streaming that made Netflix what it is today. At its inception, Netflix’s biggest rival was Blockbuster, who went out of business in 2013 after hanging on perhaps a little too long after the physical DVD rental market died. Now, its rivals are effectively its imitators, in the form of Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Netflix, and companies like it, are changing the way both the media industry itself and consumers operate. It has happened subtly, but Netflix has in a few ways changed the world:

 

  • Binge Watching

 

You have probably noticed that the brand itself has become part of the modern lexicon – the word ‘Netflix’ itself having become shorthand for chilling out and binge watching a TV show, much as the word ‘Google’ became shorthand for ‘looking it up on the internet’.

Netflix was smart in terms of knowing how their customers use their product. The value for money Netflix offers comes from using it a lot, rather than logging in once a week to see the new episode of a series you are following. Netflix release their TV programs – both their own productions and shows bought from networks like CBS and FOX – as complete series. Netflix users can wolf down an entire season of a newly released Netflix original the day it is released if they want to, and marathoning one’s way through a series is no longer considered something you do when you’re sick, but a normal way to enjoy TV. Looking at Netflix guides to discover new possible gems to get addicted to has become an international pastime.

 

  • A New TV Production Giant

 

Back in 2000, it would have been strange to imagine movie stars appearing in TV shows at all, let alone ones made by the company that rents out DVDs via the mail.

Times have changed in the media industry too, with TV shows now seen not as lesser than movies, but perhaps even as more prestigious for actors, if it is a series with a lot of cachet. When Netflix first started making their own shows, people were impressed by their ability to secure not only the cult hit franchise Arrested Development, but also its all-star cast, which included people like Michael Cera and Liza Minelli. Now, Netflix makes a huge array of shows featuring the likes of Drew Barrymore in lead roles, and managed to attract Will Smith for their first movie.

 

  • ‘I Don’t Own a Television’

 

Not owning a television in the early 2000’s was a pretty bold lifestyle statement. These days, however, a lot of people don’t – and yet that doesn’t mean they have decided not to watch. Netflix has made it the norm to watch on computers, tablets and mobile devices, although the option is always there to stream it to a TV, for example through a games console, and watch ‘the old-fashioned way’. When people want to save, often things like cable TV are the first to go, as cheap Netflix can easily fill its place for entertainment.

While Netflix may have the feel of a new company, it is almost two decades old, and it seems like its biggest impacts on media and its consumers may still be unfolding.

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