Netflix vs. Cable… What’s the Chill Factor?

Marina Chiafullo ‘20

Next Episode Playing in 13 Seconds.” Over the past ten to fifteen years, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and other online services providing hundreds of shows and movies continue to gain activity while cable television gets left in the dust. Around the world, people tend to prefer these online services over cable, and stations such as Fox and MSNBC are losing advertisement revenue along with viewers. So what makes these streaming services so appealing as compared to the classic channels?

Younger viewers tend to prefer these streaming services, as shown in a survey conducted by Nielsen Ratings. Shows provided on cable television, such as The Good Doctor, Young Sheldon, and Grey’s Anatomy all have an average viewer age in the 50s. Conversely, 60% of Americans stream or subscribe to an online service, with 19-29 year olds comprising the highest amount of subscribers. Netflix holds the most subscribers, at 137 million. These facts reveal great potential for the future of subscription services.

Shows on cable television continue to become less appealing to younger demographics, so Netflix has begun to create shows and movies targeted towards them. Their original shows Stranger Things and 13 Reasons Why were a huge hit with teenagers, while their newest release Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes appeals to those who lived during Bundy’s reign of terror. Netflix appeals to all age groups and has many shows that cable offers available for the watching, any time, and anywhere. Ashwath Subramanian ‘20 explains that “the shows on cable aren’t what they used to be. They don’t interest me anymore and I’d rather just get the shows I want to watch quickly and more efficiently on Netflix.” This applies not only to Ashwath, but many people at Ridge as well as across the globe.

Many attribute Netflix’s popularity to its convenience. Services like it usually release full seasons rather than separate episodes at a time, so people can binge-watch: they sit on the couch, in bed, or somewhere comfortable and watch countless episodes and sometimes even whole seasons with minimal breaks. Separate episodes could cause viewers to lose interest when waiting for the next chapter in the story. Niyati Kashyap ‘22 explains that “Netflix allows us to rewind and watch anything at any time, while cable TV options are limited.” Not all cable networks have the channels people want to watch just a tap away, while most services like Netflix do.

Speaking of convenience, cable television shows are always interrupted by advertisements and commercials for other shows, which can get a little frustrating. Netflix has not instituted advertisements, so it’s easy for the viewer to watch more content in less time. In addition, more and more young adults don’t actually own a television, since Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and other services are available on the computer, smart phone, tablet, and other electronic devices. Because of this, many people are no longer paying for cable television. This creates a huge decrease in revenue for cable companies while the next person presses “play” on their next episode of The Office on Netflix.