The end of final exams marks the beginning of the long-awaited winter break, a time when students gear up to engage in binge-watching, or watching shows for longer time spans than usual, often several episodes of a show in one sitting.
The on-demand streaming service Netflix has changed the way many college students consume media, allowing them to watch shows on their own schedule and on portable devices.
Aside from providing access to established programs for its more than 53 million users, Netflix has also ventured into making its own original series, with shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”
In November, Netflix announced it will be making a show based off the hit novel series “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Additionally, it will be teaming up with Marvel Comics to make a show about a retired superhero detective, Jessica Jones, and another about the superhero “Daredevil.” These will add to the growing assortment of shows released all at once that has made Netflix so popular among students.
“People will say that they watched half a season today, and someone else will say they watched the whole season,” said freshman Nathan Morales. “I’ve seen a lot of people binge-watching right now, or they’re just waiting for the series to end so they can watch it on Netflix.”
In the past, viewers would have to wait a full week to watch the next episode of their favorite show. Netflix works to lower that wait time to nothing between episodes.
“When I used to watch TV on TV, sometimes I would forget about the show because I would have to wait a week, but now I just watch it all at once and I’ll remember it and be more into it,” Morales said. “I’ll actually finish the show or series.”
Netflix recently conducted a survey to see how people perceived binge-watching, and 73 percent of those surveyed held a positive view.
“Our viewing data shows that the majority of streamers would actually prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, said concerning the survey.
The survey also revealed that 79 percent of people find the television show better when they can watch several episodes at once.
According to freshman Jack Sheitelman, there is a social component to binge-watching.
“It’s a give and take,” he said. “For a few days, you’re gone from the world, but when you come back you’re able to talk to people about the show, especially if it’s popular.”
The rise in Netflix has caused some, like Morales, to question the relevancy of traditional broadcast. He said that he would be interested in watching “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Netflix, versus a cable network.
“If I knew that Fox was coming out with something like that, I probably wouldn’t watch,” he said. “I know that Netflix shows have been nominated.”
Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, said that although traditional broadcast served a purpose in the past, it will die within 16 years.
“It’s kind of like the horse, you know, the horse was good until we had the car,” Hastings said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030.”
As Netflix continues to grow in popularity, Sheitelman believes cable networks must make strides to keep up.
“I think it is going to push networks to make better content, and I think we will see more content released online immediately after the episode through a company’s own website,” Sheitelman said.