The instant access, video streaming juggernaut Netflix makes this claim on their YouTube homepage about their recent commitment and success with offering original content to subscribers: Netflix original series - The Future of Television is Here
. Got me thinking, how much truth is there to that statement?
Netflix Offers Instant Gratification, And No Commercials (thank goodness)
Netflix is off to a great start with their original programming. No doubt scores of subscribers are shelling out 8 bucks a month solely for exclusive access to their hit show 'House of Cards'. And why not? Kevin Spacey downright owns that role. Currently though, what's got everyone excited is the new season of the Netflix original 'Orange Is The New Black'. And with my own anticipation of this latest season, coupled with the realization that I have a good 12+ hours of instant entertainment access just days away, it got me wanting to write about Netflix's original programming ethics, and why it's superior to the now out-dated television way of doing things.
Netflix plans on releasing all 13 episodes of season 2 for 'Orange is the New Black' on June 6th at 3:00am EST at the exact same time. FYI, this instant access to a whole season at one time is par for the course with all their original shows. That's in stark contrast to the way that most every other, more traditional broadcasting network releases content, highlighting an important difference in the two mediums at work here. With cable and local television programming, networks have no choice really but to release one episode at a time throughout the course of a few months. It's just the nature of the technology; television signals sent to a television set are linear in presentation. (Services like On-Demand have changed this landscape a bit, but only for premium cable users and/or DVR owners. Also of note, these services only stockpile episodes after they have already aired, and they only offer such a feature temporarily or are limited to your DVR's hard drive space.)
Historically though, this format has worked supremely well for television networks ever since TV's inception way back in the 1920's. With hit shows come ability to hype each coming episode during the course of the whole week, load up on advertisers and draw out success. For nearly a century, that method was the only game in town and consumers have inevitably complied due to lack of options. But just like with the music industry where CD manufacturers eventually fell way to a better method of delivery and consumption, entertainment ever digitizes.
Enter the internet, video streaming and Netflix. With this new medium, no longer do viewers have to wait for their new fix on the once-a-week time line. No sir. Now they can get it all, and all at once. Or at least a season at a time. That's the way that Netflix has chosen to do things. With all of their original content, once a year, you get full and instant access. I suppose Netflix could have chosen the old format. They could have chosen to release an episode or even two once or twice a week. You know, keep people coming back and refreshing their page, checking for new uploads. And likely no one would have complained much, even though it's obvious the internet can run programming very differently.
The key difference in internet TV vs cable and local sent to a TV box: data storage. The internet allows for non-linear access to information. This opens up a whole new avenue for television. Kudos to Netflix for recognizing they have the ability to turn original programming on its head, and more kudos sent their way for actually choosing to do so. Feels like the audience has more power and choice this way. You can binge watch the entire second season of 'Orange Is The New Black' in one day, if you like. Or savor the viewing over the course of a year, giving yourself about one episode a month. Your choice. I like that. Makes the subscription fee seem more than fair. Bundle that with the fact you can cancel anytime, and that's why Netflix will continue to be super successful for years to come. The cherry on top for me, zero commercials!
Original Programming Series currently on Netflix:
Here are all the original shows that Netflix has produced and released so far. I highly recommend getting to know 'House of Cards
' and 'Orange is the New Black
'. Serious quality programming. One, a look into the dirty side of U.S. politics (as if there is a clean one). The other, a comedy-drama with a look into the world of a minimally-secure women's prison.
House of Cards (2 Seasons with more to come)
Orange Is The New Black (2 seasons with more to come)
Lilyhammer (2 seasons with more to come)
Derek (2 seasons with more to come)
Hemlock Grove (1 season with more to come)
Arrested Development (Season 4 only)
Bad Samaritans (1 season, only 5 episodes and looks to be done)
Options in full: List of original programs distributed by Netflix
Netflix also offers a good and growing amount of other originally produced material: comedy stand-up specials, documentaries, kid's shows, and various mini-series. All of this comes standard at the very reasonable price tag of $7.99/month (last time I checked my invoice), and joins the 'watch instantly' page alongside a myriad of other various, instant online video streaming choices: new and older movies, documentaries and TV shows.
Television and the Internet Merge, and Everyone Wins Because Of It.
No doubt Netflix and instant access original programming is the trend and wave of the future for what we refer to as "TV shows". Netflix is proving right now that people would rather pay a small monthly subscription and watch their programming when they see fit, WITHOUT commercials instead of getting it for free but having to tune in on a network's schedule. Skeptical of that claim? Check this out: Netflix Now Accounts for 34 Percent of US Internet Traffic at Peak Times
. And that report also notes that the latter half of 2013 (the most recent data available) show's that downtime traffic still cited Netfilix with 32% of ALL internet traffic. Unbelievable, yet factual. Not to mention everyone hates suffering through advertisements. DVR did a decent job of helping TV box entertainment stop-gap that issue for almost a good decade. But now, thankfully a better option is here. Original programming brought to you via the internet, streamed instantly and commercial-free onto most any smart device, that is the future.
Netflix is paving the way and others will follow. YouTube, Amazon, Crackle, Hulu and others are already catching on and joining the ranks of online options. That, and premium subscription-based cable companies like HBO and Showtime have been offering similar services for a few years now. Good to see television merge with the internet. Once again, the internet makes another industry evolve for the better.