The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper

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Film & TV

Netflix Has Zero Chill

A new era of television has dawned...

The age of internet television subscriptions has slowly infiltrated the market with services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Sky’s Now TV providing realistic competition to the traditional format. Over the past few years, there has been a significant transition amongst viewers from scheduled television to anytime and anywhere subscription services. But what is the reason for this shift away from a beloved episode of Bargain Hunt at 12 o’clock in the afternoon? And what could this change mean for the future of TV?

Although scheduled television still maintains the highest ratings amongst viewers, the industry has witnessed an increase in rival TV and film subscription services being used. Now, nearly a quarter of all British households have Netflix accounts (not including the others who use their parents’ account for free as one of the 4 devices allowed – P.S. thanks Mum and Dad), with 1.4 million people joining the service in 2015 alone.

“What once seemed like a far off luxury is now an easily accessible reality…without the bombardment of marketing interruptions advertising Nicole Scherzinger’s disturbing love affair with yogurt.”

It is easy to see why this change is occurring. In many cases, these subscriptions are offering something that scheduled TV can’t- On Demand TV, sans adverts. What once seemed like a far-off luxury is now an easily-accessible reality, with seamless viewing of an array of TV shows and films without the bombardment of marketing interruptions advertising Nicole Scherzinger’s disturbing love affair with yogurt. Netflix and the like have established a market where the viewer is essentially in complete control of their viewing time.

However, despite this convenient development in the digital age, a few problems do arise. Most notably and perhaps relatably, the main one being the inevitable binge-watch marathon. Many of these subscriptions allow you to watch consecutive episodes of your chosen shows for hours on end until you inevitably get the dreaded ‘are you still alive?’ notification just to reiterate how much of a couch potato you are.

Whilst this may not be a massive issue, what tends to happen whilst watching three seasons of AbFab in a day is that you lose all sense of time within the show, as opposed to being limited to one scheduled episode a week and one series a year. One minute, Saffy is a geek in high school and the next she’s completed her degree and has a baby. What these subscription services have created is an impatient audience, who are not satisfied until they can access all episodes of any TV show they desire.

Furthermore, these TV subscriptions all have different exclusives which means you are required to sign up for each service separately in order to view the shows and films you want. Therefore someone who wants to watch Orange is the New Black, Vikings and Game of Thrones will have to create accounts with three different providers.

Whilst the competing exclusives have ensured a rich and diverse range of programmes to become engrossed in, to the point where you have devoured yet another packet of sharer crisps entirely by yourself, it can either prove greatly expensive or it pushes the lowly student further towards illegal streaming. It may not just affect TV either. With ever-increasing prices of cinema tickets, people could be tempted to stay at home rather than pay around £10 each for a film and a minuscule portion of Ben & Jerry’s. Whilst it is difficult to tell whether services like Netflix are affecting the size of cinema audiences, it has been a discussion amongst experts for some time now.

So what is the future for TV? With reduced revenue being made through advertising, there could potentially be less funding for the programmes we know and love, as well as the new ones. It is also possible that the BBC could be under further threat as fewer people choose to renew their TV licences. Although the increase in popularity of subscription services could see a greater variety of shows and films on offer to viewers of all tastes, it could lead to a greater Americanisation of British television.

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