BY NICK SISTI
The trajectory of television, and video content delivery as a whole, has endured quite a drastic shakeup throughout the unstoppable rise of streaming platforms in the past few years. Since the early days of only three network channels, the medium has continued to broaden through expansion of content availability and more esoteric niche content coming to fruition.
Largely sparked by 2011’s phenomenon of the Netflix Original House of Cards, big budget TV has firmly planted its place in the streaming world, adding yet another dimension to an ever-evolving landscape. This has constructed a entirely separate layer to the collective television conversation, one whose lines may be blurred soon as more and studios continue to toss their pennies in the streaming fountain. A recent Nielsen study has determined that over 50 percent of millennials have ceased use of traditional television, which may mean that it’s time for cable companies to adapt to the changing tides to maintain relevance.
“It’s kind of like radio. It’s still there, it’s just not the main thing anymore,” said Vincent Terranio, a broadcasting major. “It used to be the premium channels like HBO that had all the expensive well-made shows but with all of the web hits that’s not the case anymore. I don’t think it’s going to die out, but it’s definitely going to change a lot.”
Convergence of internet and TV has occurred to the point where there is an outcry whenever a live event cannot be streamed over the internet. NBC received a significant amount of backlash for not offering a way to view the 2017 Golden Globe Awards online.
“I’d say about 10 percent of what I watch is live TV,” said Louis Perez, a music recording major. “If something like an awards show is on, I want to see it as it’s happening to get the experience. It’s just not the same if it’s pre-recorded.”
Though the various forms of film mediums have long passed, the basic function of this analog equipment will always live on in the way digital content and television production tools are modeled. Video editing software continues to display icons showing rolls of film, and film producers will sometimes even try to emulate the look of a certain type of vintage film using filters and color adjustment.
In a similar fashion, shows that are produced exclusively for streaming transcend the strict borders of network television while simultaneously remaining within them. While the basic setup of a Netflix Original show may follow a traditional-format plot structure, there are a variety of factors that add up to create a wildly different viewing experience.
“The shows are actually 30 minutes, not the typical 19 minutes plus commercials,” Terranio said. “In something like Breaking Bad, there’s obvious cuts for commercials and strategically placed cliffhangers. The streaming shows don’t have that.”
In another example of this ever-shifting transcendence, the idea of carving out dedicated time to sit down and watch a TV program has slowly begun its fade into the mist. With the same programs available on smartphones, tablets, and portable video game consoles, a legitimate television may not even be necessary.
“I barely use my TV,” said Angela Frugone, a broadcasting major. “I’m never home so everything I watch is usually on my phone. I typically go on Youtube Red, Netflix, Hulu, just online streaming.”
For the growing hordes of cord-cutters, streaming services offer an inexpensive way to pay solely for the content they want.
“I think for those with a lower income, the streaming services are very beneficial. I think cable will eventually be obsolete,” Frugone said.
A recent Tivo research study conveyed that 99 percent of people multitask while watching television. Viewers are typically divided into two camps: passive or active watchers. Often, the type of watcher will influence the type of programming they consume.
“I’d say I’m a passive watcher,” said Frugone. “Whether it’s laundry, homework, or texting, I’m always doing something else while watching.”
The ever-popular “binge watching” format has influenced how audiences perceive programs as opposed to a serialized format. Some researchers over the years have argued that watching a series all the way through in a short period of time provides an experience more akin to a novel, as the audience becomes more emotionally invested in the characters. For some students, this is the optimal way to watch.
“I usually let the episodes build up and then binge watch them. I can’t do the whole cliffhanger then wait a week thing,” said Frugone. “When I was younger I was really into Pretty Little Liars. Because of the cliffhangers, it compelled me more to sit down and watch it at a certain time. I prefer the binge watching format because I don’t have to deal with seeing spoilers online in between episodes since I’m watching it all at once.”
For others, the preference changes depending on the program.
“It really depends on the show,” Perez said. “Some shows I prefer to take it slow, but others like Daredevil, I have to watch all the way through.”
One downside to releasing an entire season of television at all once is that it eliminates the fan chatter between episodes, creating a possibly skewed dynamic of anticipation.
“It’s a different experience when watching a show weekly as opposed to all at once,” Terranio said. “There’s a great deal of speculation and theories tossed around online each week and you don’t get that sort of experience with watching it all at once. The cliffhangers don’t really mean anything anymore because you immediately go right into the next episode.”