In my early years, shopping at Best Buy with my father, I remember seeing ads for this “thing” called Netflix. What could be more distinguishing than a bright red flyer among the sea of blue and yellow signs? One day, he succumbed to the plea of the cashier asking if he’d like to subscribe to the service. And just like that, every cliché idea of magic happened. New movies and tv series? Mailed to my house?! It was startlingly soon after this discovery that I quickly became addicted to the ease of Netflix’s service.
A short while later, Netflix had finally arisen as Blockbuster’s competition (remember those days?) and in just a couple of years, this company had dominated watching and buying films, as we’d known it all our lives.
What began as a service to your home became a service to society; nowadays a show can relive its past glory once its seasons are added to Netflix Instant (ahem, Firefly, Veronica Mars, Lost). In this vein, let’s talk about Arrested Development for a hot second here: this is a show that was so unjustly cancelled by their network and was added, rather haphazardly, to the New Releases showroom on the Netflix homepage. Suddenly, you could not go anywhere without seeing someone quote (or meme) Buster or Lucille, or more commonly, Dr. Tobias Fünke. I mean, if you can see Arrested Development memorabilia at Urban Outfitters, you know it’s big. It is a correlation that people should universally acknowledge— once a show is added to Netflix, a fan base resurfaces. Many blogs and Twitter accounts are even dedicated to tracking which new film and television works are released out into the cyberworld, ready to be devoured by everyone and their mother, given she has a device on which to stream it.
More and more studios are realizing that people don’t watch television live anymore. That’s where Hulu came in, as the game changer— or so it seemed; but people are more inclined to wait for a complete series, or at the very least a season, to emerge on their Netflix queue than to see it the following day, or in more common occasions, the following week on Hulu. The pattern society has taken, as of late, is whichever Netflix throws its way—they say jump, we grab a trampoline. Other studios are following suit; Warner Brothers, just this weekend announced the inclusion of at least 8 different series to be released, exclusively to the US, on this coveted PR booster. Just before this, Disney and Pixar, other titans of entertainment world, had announced their partnership with this stentorian media conglomerate. Last year, Kevin Spacey announced his new show, House of Cards, a re-make of a British show by the same name to be produced in part by David Fincher, to be released this February exclusively online.
You know what this means now? Netflix has now surpassed its role as a mere facilitator of films and television and has maintained a Baratheon-like grip on the streaming of this content, but now they grow restless. In the early 2000s, Netflix announced their expansion into Canada and Britain, however their selection is limited. They’ve more recently announced their takeover in Latin America as well as Ireland. Soon, they will enable subscribers to view all their content in HD and 3D as well as with closed captioning.
Creation of content was once reserved for the likes of Hollywood, and now resides in their hands. Arrested Development is now officially announcing the release of their newest season of 14 episodes this May- “only on Netflix.” This seems to be the quote of 2013, and surely of the next few years at the very least. An underdog hasn’t held this much power since Comcast bought out NBC Universal; it’s a scary notion that one CEO or CFO could have so much say in how and when we receive media content. What was once a flyer largely ignored by Best Buy customers, is now one of the greatest tools for studios and the entertainment media.
It will definitely be interesting to see the spread of Netflix’s power as a company and how its influence can evolve beyond the screens to which we find ourselves held captive. Here’s praying HBO heard my Game of Thrones reference and signs a contract quickly.
– Alejandra Buitrago, Staff Writer
Art by Jasmin