Research Nugget 1

Ladue, M. (2013, June 12). Will Netflix Kill TV?. . Retrieved June 2, 2014, Link
The main point of this authors argument was that the Netflix model, as he puts it, may ultimately spell the end of the way people have viewed television shows for years. The advent of binge-watching has created an environment in which the old form of episode-per-week is losing popularity. Established relationships between companies will crumble, which has caused television executives much worry. In essence, Netflix has the potential to kill TV as we know it if Netflix’s model is adopted more widely. The author’s eventual point being that Netflix should adopt the television broadcast model to save the industry from destabilization.
“The service is a massive hit. Netflix currently takes up one-third of all the downstream bandwidth the web can provide. The average subscriber watches 87 minutes of programming per day. While short of the 18-24-year-old live television average of 3.5 hours per day, that latter number is split across hundreds of network and cable channels. Netflix has a captive audience.”
Ladue is quick to point out the enormous impact on the internet Netflix has. Capitalizing on that much bandwidth is impressive to say the least, but when considering that an average subscriber is on Netflix for an hour and some change each day, one must consider the mark on viewer’s lives this service leaves. Netflix has become an important part of people’s day, and it should be recognized for the impact it has had.
“Original shows ushered in using the Netflix model, like House of Cards and Hemlock Grove, have cut out the advertisers. Netflix functions as the network, and if the company decides to evolve from simply licensing original programming to actually producing, they’ll be the studio, too. Netflix is making all the money, monopolizing our attention and making poor consumers out of its subscribers. If this model becomes the norm, the producer/advertiser relationship will be pushed to the breaking point…
But what happens once Netflix reaches the point where profiting only on its own original programming makes more sense than continuing to pay licensing fees, which will skyrocket as the studios jack up prices due to diminished on-air returns? Netflix is positioning itself as its own network, assembling a lineup of programming that will survive the inevitable scripted network TV apocalypse. And once the people lose instant access to former network favorites like How I Met Your Mother and The Office, they’ll rebel by cancelling their subscriptions, the fees will also increase as competition is defeated. But by that point the damage will be irreparable – both television and Netflix will be dismantled by the impatient viewer.”
Netflix seems to have broken a paradigm that has been established since the inception of television. Without advertisers, studios and producers are not paid, broadcasters have nothing to send to viewers, and television as we know it ends. An entire industry destroyed by innovation. Ladue seems a bit alarmist, and submits a statement admitting this, but he is justified in being alarmed. The article makes a convincing, though not well-rounded, argument for why Netflix might kill television, thereby spelling its own doom.
Smith, C. (2014, January 16). The Netflix Effect: How Binge-Watching is changing television. . Retrieved June 2, 2014, from Link
The article discusses the psychological issues surrounding the Netflix Effect, otherwise known as binge-watching, a topic covered in the last article. Smith’s main argument is that psychologists and psychiatrists agree that binge-watching is unhealthy in a number of ways. The first he lists is emotional battery, in which a subject is exposed to so many highs and lows in an episode that it drains them emotionally. He then pivots to our nations growing desire for instant gratification, which Netflix is only encouraging. Smith ends with a discussion of addiction and Netflix’s role in fostering a need for media.

“It’s like you’re punch drunk, and saying ‘come on feed me another one,'” Greg Dillon associate professor of psychiatry and public health at Weill Cornell Medical College says, of the effects of binging on modern television drama shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. “Even a single episode has so many highs and lows that by the end of it you’re so beaten up, you’re less receptive to the emotional and intellectual ideas being put forth. Yet still we click and watch another one.” – Chris Smith

The television format was designed for greater story-telling ability to be flexed, for a longer tale to be told in more detail. Through this, viewers connected to characters and the issues they dealt with each week. By binge-watching, people are depriving themselves the experience of mulling over an episode for a week and pondering what might happen next, which would increase their attachment to the show. Instead, people are desensitized by repetition.

“Those final eight episodes of Breaking Bad… now that was an extraordinary experience. From the countdown to it coming back from the mid-season break to the anticipation of a new episode on TV each week… wow!” Said Thompson. “That was just a different kind of buzz that [binge watching] doesn’t give you.” Ironically enough, the week-to-week format we enjoyed/endured during our last hours with Jesse and Walt proved to be an anomaly for millions who latched on to the growing buzz and raced through the previous five-and-half-seasons during the 12-month pre-climax hiatus – the binge before the episodic storm. Many caught up just so they could be part of the ending as it happened, so they could join in on the conversation rather than cover their ears to avoid spoilers. Breaking Bad, as it turned out, bridged the two eras perfectly, offering a stunning paradox of each distribution model’s merits.” -Chris Smith

As with the last author, Smith is quick to point out the benefits of each medium of delivery. In order to watch a critically acclaimed television show’s final season, millions binge-watched the preceding four.

At this point I would offer that Netflix and television have their place. The former as a method of catch-up or to watch a show at one’s own pace after completion, the latter as a delivery mechanism for the emotional and psychological attachment that a television show is capable of producing. This seems to be what Smith suggests, until he discusses addiction with Doctors Jaramillo and Thompson.

Netflix produced shows do not have planned commercial breaks, but maintain that intense cliff-hanger at the end of each episode. This is done intentionally, as viewers can decide to be connoisseurs and end the viewing there, or addicts and barrel through the next four episodes. The formats are intentionally different, but Netflix leaves the decision up to the viewer as to how much of the show is desired to be consumed, a point covered by the previous author.

Both men seem to understand that Netflix is innovating in an unapologetic fashion, without regard for the established norms of television. Each makes an argument as to why Netflix should join the ranks of the current establishment, but neither makes an argument as to why innovation is a bad thing. Placing more control in the hands of the viewer does not have to degrade the value of a television series.  The most important point both articles raise is we need to be wary of how we consume shows. Beware, and watch in peace.

 

P.S. Still trying to find a scholarly article on the Netflix effect, but the deadline in nearing and I’m not sure if I’ll make it. Submitting now just to be on the safe side.

One thought on “Research Nugget 1”

  1. Hey George,
    This is an excellent first nugget assignment. You took an in-depth look at the sources and did a very good job unpacking the nuggets!

    The spacing made this very hard to read, though. I know something you save stuff and it will delete your spacing. It’s happened to me, too, and I have to go back and repeatedly space and publish until it works. I know of no other option for how to fix this kink that occurs once in a while.

    I know you were having trouble with finding a scholarly source, but then we had a second conference and we found many together, right? It’s now Saturday and I’m not seeing a third or scholarly source here.

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