This graphic shows how online streaming services have become so popular they are almost overtaking traditional medias. In 2020, the global number of streaming subscribers passed 1 billion for the first time, according to the LA Times. Graphic by Addison Whiten
Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video are just some names on the long and growing list of streaming services available to subscribers. These services offer users the chance to stream titles from home and are now a cornerstone in how people consume content.
Streaming services have boomed in popularity, with the number of global subscribers passing 1 billion for the first time in 2020, according to the LA Times. There are still some cons to streaming films versus seeing them in their traditional theatrical setting, but overall, streaming services are now at the forefront of media and entertainment.
“I can’t think of a single popular TV show that’s only on cable television,” junior Abby Morrow said. “Most popular content has shifted to streaming services.”
While Morrow said she values the new content that arrives to platforms, sophomore Screen Arts Major Carly Shea Condon said something she loves about streaming services is the chance to rewatch old favorites.
“I like the idea of, ‘OK, this came out however many years ago or maybe this came out a week ago and I saw it in the theater, but I loved it so much, and now I have the ability to watch it every day for the next week,’” Condon said.
One of Condon’s favorite features of streaming services is the ability for users to curate a list of TV shows and movies they want to watch. She said that feature, and the personalized recommendations many platforms make for users based on their viewing history, makes finding new things to watch much easier and enjoyable.
“I think that that’s really inventive and special to streaming platforms, which I’m sure is why they do so well,” Condon said.
Many people criticize the way streaming services have changed the film industry, Condon said, particularly because of how they’re interfering with the traditional theater experience.
Condon said she believes, however, that the ability to stream films at home keeps them alive in a way that is more accessible than ever before.
“The idea of putting out a movie in a theater but then 15 years later, having people that still love it and want to watch it again having access to it on a streaming platform and being able to continue to experience that is great,” Condon said.
Morrow also said the accessibility of streaming is a huge aspect of why she enjoys using streaming services.
The biggest problem with streaming for Morrow, however, is the way it often reduces television as an art form, in favor of quickly cranking out entire seasons of a show at once. HBO Max — the platform both Condon and Morrow said is their favorite — is the home of the hit show “Euphoria,” which Morrow said is a great example of how a streaming service can release a show without losing any artistic value.
“’Euphoria’ coming out every week like traditional TV shows definitely enhanced the hype surrounding it and made me that much more excited for each episode,” Morrow said. “When all of the episodes get dumped at once, I think audiences can take it for granted.”
As a future filmmaker, Condon said she has considered whether she wants to make films for streaming platforms or strictly for traditional theatrical release.
“It’s a double edged sword,” Condon said. “It’s almost like, do you go where the money is? Or do you follow your heart and reach for the overall experience of watching a film, you know?”
The availability of high-quality home audio and television technology and the high price of seeing a movie in a theater are two factors Morrow said she believes influence filmmakers to release their work on streaming services. The traditional theatrical experience is something Morrow loves, however, and she would go to the theater more regularly if not for how expensive it often is.
“Especially when big movies are released, going to see them with a crowd of equally excited people in LA is one of my favorite things to do,” Morrow said.
While both Morrow and Condon enjoy streaming services and use them almost daily, Condon said she believes there is still no at-home viewing experience comparable to seeing a film in a theater.
“There’s something so spectacular about sitting in a room with a bunch of strangers, people that you’ve never met before and you’re probably never going to meet again, and you’re not even communicating with them, but you’re all experiencing the same thing at once,” Condon said. “I think that it’s one of the only experiences now where people are completely still and in the same moment. It’s so special and it’s something that you don’t get when you watch a movie on Netflix.”
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Contact Addison Whiten via Twitter (@addisonwhiten) or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org