By: Jocelyne Poblador
My, how the TV consumer has changed.
The advent of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video may have destroyed the water-cooler culture, but they’ve also democratized a media forum that was once controlled by a few networks like NBC and CBS, and cable channels like HBO.
Forced to adapt when broadband speeds allowed anyone with a laptop and Web browser to access thousands of hours of shows online- often from sites that encourage piracy– traditional content providers relented. While it remains to see the long-term effects, show producers have stumbled on creating a new viewer habit. Binge watching is the act of marathon viewing a single series.
Netflix and Hulu Plus’s successful drive to gain subscribers proved viewers were willing to pay a fair rate for access to thousands of titles they don’t necessarily own. Instead of using blockbuster movies as its crown jewels, both have focused their attention on adding, and even producing, content typically made for TV.
Netflix has moved the role of content provider to creative producer. With varying degrees of success, the company released original shows like the Emmy Award-nominated political thriller House of Cards and wolf-centric horror of Hemlock Grove, in 12-episode increments.
Even HBO, which has so far rebuffed Netflix’s attempts to stream its popular content, has recognized the future of online binge watching.
The cable giant responsible for the hit Game of Thrones has rolled out its streaming service, HBO Go, the only one that offers binge watchers shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Sex and the City.