The Effect of Streaming Services on Shows and Movies

Olivia Burns, Writer

Streaming services, such as Netflix, have affected the content in visual media just as much as the way it is consumed. 

Streaming services can contain a larger amount of content, allowing more varied and less popular content. They can examine the preferences of users, allowing them to locate gaps in the market and create more popular content. They can contain more diverse characters and more polarizing opinions because they are not airing them and they do not represent the brand. They can also make more graphic content readily available because they are not airing them and can allow more creator freedom. 

Streaming services can contain a larger volume of content on demand. Because their content does not take up airtime, they can purchase a wider, more varied catalog. They simply need to contain enough content for everyone, not a couple of widely marketed shows. Netflix can contain hundreds of options on demand instead of ten shows available on a channel and afford to buy less popular shows because they won’t take up airtime. More indie shows and movies can be purchased for a lower price, and more popular shows can be purchased at a higher price and still make a profit. According to Forbes, this allows smaller creators to broadcast their content on a mainstream platform. They still buy the content they believe will be popular and make money. They would not continue to pay for something that is losing them money. However, it is a different system than cable television that allows for more content.

Most streaming services mine their user data so they can find the content that would be more popular and have more mass appeal. According to NBC news, their original media is created to contain unique elements, which leads to media that has more cutting-edge risk-taking elements because they know if there is a good chance it will find an audience. They can easily locate gaps in the market and fill them with their own ideas. They can examine which writers, genres, and techniques garner the most attention before purchasing or funding a show. If they know younger audiences need more content they can fund shows aimed at that age group.  

Media containing characters whose identities and personalities would not have been showcased on television years ago now come in a wide selection and are very popular. Diverse identities are now more readily showcased in media which is mostly due to societal progression. They are especially common on shows available on streaming services because they can purchase more content and be more personalized as their shows do not need to be marketed towards everyone. (Forbes) Their shows do not need to be inoffensive towards everyone and can contain political leanings or polarizing opinions. Their media is more individualized, allowing certain genres and niche interests to be contained in their visual catalog. If a show can find enough of an audience, there is no limit or ban on what can be in them. As long as a show makes enough of a profit to justify staying on the service, it will not be censored. 

Streaming services do not screen pilots before buying a show and instead purchase seasons at a time. They do not censor the creators as extensively allowing more graphic content to be in them. (Investopedia) As they are not airing the shows to anyone seeing their channel, they do not have a responsibility of keeping their content from containing certain things younger audiences should not see. For example, a show broadcast on ABC would not be able to contain certain language a show on Amazon Prime could. Their brand does not hinge on certain shows they are airing allowing them to buy content for every possible audience. Society has progressed to a point where graphic elements are not as taboo or unacceptable as they were in the past. This can be placed in part on streaming services that allow graphic media to be more readily available. 


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