By Patrick Hamblett
Netflix was one of the first available direct-to-consumer video streaming services developed and since their conception they have been quite the disturbance in the media industry.
In 1997 Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph, two American entrepreneurs founded an online DVD rental service that has evolved the way people around the world consume media. For a low monthly rate, you could rent a number of DVDs that would receive and return through the mail.
Just ten years later Netflix allowed for the possibility of streaming which then allowed every member to watch widely popular shows and movies. Another five years later and Netflix had nearly 31 Emmy nominations, making them the first internet TV network nominated for the primetime Emmy. 20 years after its creation Netflix is now available worldwide and valued at nearly 150 billion dollars.
Online media has grown tremendously since media giants like Apple and Amazon have made products like music and books readily available to consumers via an online marketplace. Over time the need for online outlets for media distribution, and in turn consumption, has persisted. The variety of outlets has created an affordable platform by which hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide, now use as primary forms of media, specifically video consumption. Whereas in the past, subscribers to a particular show were customers of a cable or satellite tv company, now are opting out of viewing packages in exchange for the many options provided online.
Netflix prices range anywhere from eight to 14 dollars, depending on the selection of video quality. Amazon offers a 119 dollars annual package, or 13 dollars per month. This price can be cut in half for college students, which is another thing we see with specific streaming services, the one that first comes to mind is Spotify, one of the most popular music streaming apps in the world. Hulu also has a range of service packages from eight to 12 dollars with alternate options related to streaming live-TV.
The freedom provided through services such as these are a pivotal part of what makes them so popular. Many viewers don’t necessarily want to be constrained to a specific time of the week in order to watch TV. This not only connects viewers with a show through the lack of feeling behind because they had to record last week’s episode and watch at a later date, but has also helped to popularize the term binging with respect to media consumption.
Many people will spend hours on end streaming the newest shows in order to suppress their FOMO (fear of missing out). The increasing popularity of these types of subscriptions has led to various media outlets playing the role of producer rather than provider. Netflix has reportedly spent 8 billion dollars on content in 2018 alone. This type of funding has created widely-popular “Netflix Originals” such as House of Cards, Ozark, and Orange is the New Black, another main draw of viewers.
Many new opportunities for media streaming giants have presented themselves and they don’t show signs of stopping, especially for Netflix. According to Statista, Netflix yields more than 15% of global internet traffic. That’s nearly 4 times more than Amazon’s primevideo and about 2% more than almost all other forms of HTTP video-streaming excluding YouTube. Many competitors are making moves to challenge Netflix in a major way and this will certainly have great implications for the future of online video streaming. All things considered, the affordability, availability, and adaptability of Netflix is making them a force in the media industry. Moving forward it seems that Netflix’s destiny lies in their own hands.