The future of TV: With more choices comes more responsibility
by Annette Birch
For Kevin Spacey Netflix may not have been the only choice for his production of the TV-series “House of Cards” – but in the end he considers it to be the best choice.
“Netflix was the only one which did not say ‘Do a pilot.’ They just said: How many seasons do you want to do?” Spacey on Nov. 4 told a full crowd at Georgetown University. Now, he wouldn’t do it any other way. “We could do things we couldn’t do on a regular network.”
Trailer from Netflix’ popular TV-series “House of Cards” on YouTube.
Spacey explained that one of the reasons why Netflix has been so popular is that it gives people the possibility of being in control. They can choose when to watch the movies or TV-series and how much to watch. And it is cheap.
And it seems he is right. Netflix has been able to capture the modern audience by offering producers and actors a more flexible, creative environment and their audience a forum where they are in control. Today, Netflix has 23 million subscribers and last year its stock increased over 200 percent.
The reactions to Netflix transforming its strategy from a DVD by mail distributor and streamer of already produced content to a streamlining producer of original content has been overwhelming. After “House of Cards” was aired, other producers have followed suit and this summer, Netflix received 14 Emmy nominations, nine for “House of Cards,” three for “Arrested Development” and two for “Hemlock Grove.” And its new series “Orange is a New Black,” is already a huge success.
Trailer from Netflix’ TV series “Orange is the New Black.”
Other networks like NBC Universal and Amazon have followed suit and also begun pouring money into streaming original TV-shows, according to CNBC .
This raises the question of whether the streaming networks have made cable TV redundant. A survey from Harris Interactive ” target=”_blank”>survey from Harris Interactive </a>found that 53 percent of all Americans viewed digitally streaming content on an internet-enabled device. In particular streaming television was particularly popular with people btween 18 and 35 and with families with children. However, a recent study from Price Waterhouse Coopers shows that 70 percent of the respondents said they subscribe to cable TV and that even younger consumers pay for cable TV.
The reality is probably that today’s consumers want it all – and now they can have it. Before, TV could dominate the daily entertainment as the web was more a place for tech savy people, according to <a title=”Michael Wolff from USA Today.But as the web becomes an integral piece of our lives (and a whole generation has grown up with it), the speed and the possibility of choice also becomes a part of what we want, for good and for worse. As the net moves away from solely being the domain of tech people, it can become a new place for creativity, for telling stories – and thereby for producing entertainment.
Some people have objected that one of the problems with Netflix is that it has not been able to stream all the traditional high-quality movies, while others object to the change in pace in releasing all episodes at once and not one per week.
This is not only a problem which has been raised with TV but with everything from work to hobbies to private life – that life just goes faster and faster. Before, the choices were made for us. Not anymore. But more choices require the ability to choose not only what TV shows we want to see and how, but what life we would like to have. History tells us that life is not going to slow down, but the present debate shows that that we are just in the wake of learning how to choose between enormous amounts of information on the internet.
Netflix has successfully entered this competition and so have other streaming entertainments, but people are still watching cable TV. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, does not think that Netflix will or should limit the competition and existence of either other streaming or cable networks, an opinion quite in accordance with the original idea of the free exchange of information on the web.
“So I think more shows is better. And they don’t steal from each other – they build on each other,” Hastings said to CNBC on July 23.