For college students, it has almost become a rite of passage to own a Netflix account – or at least the password to your roommate’s. However, Netflix’s reach goes well beyond kids in college. As of January this year, Netflix has a total of 44 million subscribers, with 63% of Americans using it to stream television (Smith). With over half of the country using Netflix, one may wonder if streaming entertainment could soon take over as the population’s go-to source of television.
It is an interesting thought to be had. Could media streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Instant really take over the television market? Netflix, for example, not only offers many of the shows offered by cable providers, but they also have their own award-winning programs available only to Netflix subscribers (“House of Cards” anyone?). People love the opportunity to binge-watch tons of shows, commercial free. Not only is Netflix notable for its quality and quantity of shows available, but it’s drastically cheaper than cable packages. For only $8 a month you can stream endless amounts of movies and television. Not a bad deal if you ask me.
There are, of course, a few drawbacks to choosing streaming over cable. For one, it prevents you from watching the current season of your favorite shows, or it may not even offer them. If you like “Game of Thrones” as much as I do, only having a Netflix account won’t satisfy your needs, as no HBO programs are offered through Netflix. While Netflix often uploads the previous season of shows a month or two after they end, a lot of people can’t wait that long to find out what happens. Also, streaming services limit your ability to watch live television events. If you are a fan of the news, the Super Bowl, or even watching the State of the Union Address, you will have to find a friend who still has cable.
When addressing these problems, it isn’t unreasonable to think that all of them are easily fixed. In regards to live events, streaming service providers could pay to show live events, and offer the service as an add-on for its customers. This also presents the possibility of allowing customers to pick and choose the shows or stations that they want to receive. By doing so, customers could more easily control their costs. This would allow customers to stream only the shows and events they want to see, all for a low monthly rate. If streaming service providers such as Netflix were able to provide customers with the ability to pick the shows they want, as well as offering live event coverage, then all signs would point to media streaming service providers as the future of television entertainment. While prices would undoubtedly go up in order to offer these features, there is little chance that they would come close to the outrageous prices people pay for cable today.