If you asked the average 20-30 year old how often they watch television, odds are the answer wouldn’t be very high. If you asked them what television shows they watch however, you’ll be treated to a comprehensive list of shows ranging from period pieces on Depression era gangsters (Boardwalk Empire) to scarily honest modern day depictions of women in New York (Girls). Turning the channel to NBC on a Thursday night is not the primary way that young people watch TV programs anymore. It’s recorded, TiVo’d or downloaded to watch at convenience at a later date.
Starting in 1997 as an online DVD rental site (you would pay to receive a DVD by mail), Netflix incurred losses in its first few years before it sky-rocketed in 2003 with a profit of $6.5 million. By 2005, the company was shipping out a million DVD’s per day. When digitization made it possible to cut out the shipping process, the company really started doing damage. At $7.99 a month in return for a steady supply of movies and television shows whenever you wanted them, now everyone has Netflix, or at the very least, is using someone’s account, whether or not it’s theirs.
These days, Netflix is really playing with house money, trying to do it all itself by developing their own television programs to release online. With self-made and produced shows like the political drama House of Cards and the new Arrested Development web series, Netflix is fully taking TV to the internet, virtually becoming its own television network. And with the hires of big-time talent and fan favourites like Kevin Spacey and the Arrested cast to bring these shows to life, there’s truly no stopping Netflix emerging as the new cable.
Hiring David Fincher, the director of movies like The Social Network and Fight Club to helm Cards is a distinct sign that the company is not messing around. Netflix is looking for hits and it knows how find them—heck it’s been showing and marketing them for years. It’s already begun airing old episodes of Arrested Development and showing its poster wherever it can, ready to bring in viewers old and new to the new episodes when they premiere. Another sneaky-smart maneuver was releasing all 13 episodes of Cards at once. Netflix knows its audience very well and that audience loves getting intensely into a show and watching it in one go. This generation doesn’t like waiting around for things; everything is at our fingertips, and the easiest way to get people invested into a television show is to give it to them whole. Netflix has already ordered a second season of the Spacey vehicle, currently in production.
Netflix has been lurking in the dark for years now. We all thought video stores were its biggest competition, but after blowing those out of the water, Netflix is now waging a war against television networks, the same entities that made it what it is. Movie studios are probably next. The scariest part? It’s going to win.
Who do you think will win the movie studio vs. Netflix matchup? Place your bets in the comments below.
Featured Image sourced on DoodleFix.