A blog by: Thomas Williamson Domol
“Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin.”- Beck, “Golden Age”
The opening quote has nothing to do with television. It’s a line from a Beck song that sets the table for the basis of my blog tonight, that basis being that there has never been a better time to be a fan of television viewing. I’m purposefully understating that last bit because the shows I will offer up to you as official evidence of the fact that premium streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, et al. are not only making the overall experience exceptional for consumers, but have in fact, saved television from certain doom. The following lines, paragraphs, and stanzas will explicitly convey why this trend is so strong, what to invest in, and why cable and networks should stick to the news and Lakers games.
So let’s start with the obvious, that word premium, meaning that yes, you pay for it. Services like Netflix and Amazon Video cost around 8 dollars per month for access to a dearth of content ranging from exclusive miniseries, blockbuster films, documentaries, and the current major selling point, original series. This is the category in which the streaming services hold the largest advantage. For one, Netflix and HBO are not prohibited by content restrictions, that means a show like Game of Thrones can get as graphic as it wants to be. And it does preservation of art and the omission of censorship is of the utmost importance for shows that want to make the audience feel the gravity of a situation, or at least in the case of a drama, they want to make it last.
That’s one of the shows that started it all, House of Cards, the David Fincher political thriller about Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood, and his ruthless quest to control Washington DC. The complexities and nuance of a program like this could only work on a streaming service where you get 52 minutes of uninterrupted storyline, 13 times each season. This, along with the ability to “binge watch” one episode after another, make the impact of this program and others like it, resonate with the viewer long after the credits roll. You feel as if you have much more at stake with these characters whose lives you’ve become so invested in. For me, this began when I decided to embark on the unexpected journey of catching up on AMC’s mesmerizing Breaking Bad. The tragic saga of Walter White, is one of the greatest ever told in the history of television.
For the better part of a decade, the video game publisher EA Sports has claimed exclusive rights to release its ubiquitous “Madden NFL” franchise, one of the best selling games of all time, without any completion from any other publishers or developers. EA’s legal monopoly in the world of virtual pigskin is the opposite of what we’re witnessing in the rise of premium video services like Hulu, the newly minted HBO Now, and Amazon Video. The fierce competition between all of these players in the field leads to better actors, better writers, and better entertainment for you to take with you on the city bus.
To my next point, why then, do networks and cable even bother trying to compete with this new generation? The short answer is pride, but the real answer is, they’re not. You see, most network shows like Castle or The Blacklist are fully available on Netflix. The American pop culture institution known as Saturday Night Live, has its entire run of shows and specials up to this point available to subscribers of Hulu Plus. As with any business in which one entity wishes to make a profit, one entity must have a proper hook. After all, you’re not just going to gleefully fork over your hard earned cash to just any service. or maybe you are, we’ve possibly never met, so maybe you would. Another way networks are trying to stay relevant is in the introduction of shows based on comic book superheroes like Gotham, The Flash, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield. These are franchises with already large installed fan bases, resulting in a higher probability of success.
These programs are actually critically acclaimed, and satiate the desires of fans to see their favorites like young Bruce Wayne, on the small screen, while waiting for the next blockbuster film to arrive. What’s funny is that Daredevil, one of my new favorite shows, is one of four Marvel series airing exclusively on Netflix. Hopefully you watched the trailer above this paragraph. I’ve mentioned Netflix a lot, that’s because it undoubtedly holds the “cream of the crop” title at the moment. I mean they essentially forced HBO to create an online streaming only service, because the way we consume media is simply a lot different from what it once was. If I want to watch Silicon Valley in a Chipotle parking lot, I should be able to.
This, friends, is the new golden age of television Never before have we been given so much high caliber, upper echelon content so easily accessible. From fascinating and thought provoking documentaries, to gut wrenching dramas, the time to jump on board is now. If you can’t find something you like, you’re just not looking. You’ll discover so much you never thought was there.