How Netflix and Hulu Have Changed How we Watch TV
We live in an age where everything is at our fingertips, entertainment has become instantaneous. Television as we once knew it has become a relic of the past. Charles Darwin said that if creatures cannot adapt if creatures cannot evolve, they will slowly, but surely die. Television has certainly evolved since 2007 when Netflix began streaming TV shows and movies; and while it can be argued that television has become a bigger and stronger part of our lives, the way it looks is remarkably different.
Growing up in the ’80s and 90’s was a completely different beast when it came to television. Getting a chance to see your favorite TV show was many times a one off chance. You had to plan your attack, you had to make sure that the whole family was there in order to all see the latest episode. Families planned there afternoons and meals around spending quality time together. To live, to laugh, to be together. The commercials never bothered anyone, it was a chance to run and grab a snack; it never seemed foreign, it was simply a part of watching TV. Over time though, you could sense the evolution, TV was growing. It was no longer a simple 3 channel choice. Cable and satellite TV began to become mainstream, and our choices would explode.
Cable and satellite TV was the next evolution of television. More choices meant less family time, no longer was a family brought together by the one engaging show on every few nights. Now, dad watched the 24-hour news channel. Mom loved movie channels. Brothers and sisters found their own way. Television was now being ruled by choice. The choice to watch something different, the choice to watch a rerun of your favorite show later in the week. It was evolving, becoming less a part of a family’s life, and more a part of an individual’s life. Cable and satellite TV provided more options, and falling prices on electronics allowed families to afford 2nd, and even 3rd TVs. As cable and satellite TV continued it’s rise in strength and popularity, it ushered in TV’s next stages, on-demand and DVRs.
On-demand and DVR technology continued to change how TV was viewed by audiences. No longer were customers tied to television schedules. Everything from news to sports started to evolve toward instant. Do you want to watch your favorite TV show at 2 in the morning? Now you could do that. Do you want to skip through all the commercials? You can do that too. Lastly, what would eventually become a staple for subscription TV services such as Netflix and Hulu, you could even save up all the episodes of your favorite TV series and binge watch a season from start to finish. Lives were becoming busier, and families were becoming more individual. Time together was spent elsewhere and watching a movie or television show together was more of a treat than the norm. It was a steady evolution, but television was starting to resemble what would eventually become the calling cards of the subscription services; “watch what you want, when you want to watch it”.
What was started by the on-demand services would eventually become Netflix and Hulu. Lives have become so busy with school, friends, and work that television had to evolve or die. What we need in our lives is something that Netflix and Hulu have been able to provide. No longer are we willing to sit in front of the TV for an hour to watch a 40-minute program. The way that we consume (and are willing to consume) advertisements has been forever changed by the streaming TV services. Watching a movie can now become episodic. Our lives are generally so busy these days that we are not able to invest three hours of a day to a movie, but if we can watch a half hour here and there, count us in. People evolve, and media has to evolve – we need it now, or we don’t need it at all. Netflix and Hulu have been able to become what we need TV to become.
Interestingly enough, another big change that Netflix and Hulu together with popular streaming devices have made to the way we watch TV is how we are willing to pay for the convenience. Years ago, people would never have paid for something they could have gotten for free. “Why would someone pay for a TV show that is on free TV?” is what we would have said. The answer in our busy lives is convenience. The convenience to watch the shows that we want to watch WHEN we want to watch them, WHERE we want to watch them. Things happening today; watching an entire season of your favorite show, on a mobile phone, in HD, while camping would have blown our minds 15 years ago. Who knows what television’s next evolution will be, but Netflix and Hulu have certainly changed how we watch TV today.