Review: The Era of Streaming Services

Picture a time when it was just you, your television set and your TV Guide. It’s hard to imagine that a few decades ago, people debated with family in their living rooms on whether to watch the new episode of “Murphy Brown” or Monday Night Football. Even though we still struggle to decide what to watch, the how and when is all up to us now.

In April 1953, the first issue of TV Guide was available on newsstands nationwide. The guide helped create a dialogue and choosing a program together became a bonding activity for many families. Easily being able to find out what was going to be on weeks in advance allowed viewers to carve out time in their busy schedules and make time for programs and company they enjoyed.

The TV Guide took out the guess work and pointless channel surfing, but it was home VCRs that brought about new changes to television. As early as 1965, VCRs gave consumers the ability to record TV and watch it whenever it was convenient. This technology allowed working or busy parents to sit with their children and watch TV together. From VCRs to DVRs, more options and channels like MTV and HBO allowed for greater variety, more viewers, and more popularity. Thus, TV easily became a staple of casual conversations and became something to have in common. It gave a sense of community.

As life got faster and social needs advanced, so did the method of viewing entertainment.

Along came the introduction of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. These online platforms, among others, give more power and freedom to the viewer with countless opportunities to get together with people and watch what they want, when they want. No longer do we have to rely on networks to set the date and time of our favorite programs.

Not to mention the gift and curse of living in the Golden Age of Television. The amount of content available on streaming services is astronomical. Not only were shows like “The Brady Bunch” and “Friends” digitalized, but networks continue to produce and distribute original content. Other shows that popular TV networks were afraid to greenlight now have a home on online platforms.

With the most flexibility of all time due to streaming services, it has managed to unite us the most. There is no waiting for re-runs or “classics” to air to share the joy of a show with younger generations. Shows such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Full House” are online and allow younger audiences to discover these shows for the first time. Streaming has also helped spark the rediscovery of classic shows like “Star Trek” and “Cheers.” It has created a multi-generational conversation.

We were once limited to relatives, neighbors, friends and colleagues to discuss and debate our favorite shows with. Now, streaming combined with social media can instantly start conversations with people worldwide. There’s live tweeting, live voting, hashtags, discussion boards and sometimes exclusive show clips for social media followers. By simply mentioning a TV show on social media, a viewer can instantly connect with fans anywhere. There’s kinship in fandoms that could have never been predicted when radio shows and black and white TV dominated entertainment.

However, it still seems like it was just yesterday when we raced our siblings and relatives home to snag the TV remote. According to 2017 Neilson’s quarterly report, almost 70 million American households have a connected TV-streaming device and most adults spend an average of 10 hours a day consuming media. Every time we log on to social media, every time we stream a show, it is a privilege and opportunity to relate with others. Streaming services have changed our lives for the better, and maybe for the worse. It has changed our present, and will likely have an impact in ways that have yet to be realized. The only certain thing is that it will continue to shape our lives for generations to come.

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