Television as We Know It Is Changing For the Better

Streaming services changing the game


Derek Tirrell

Derek Tirrell starting up Netflix using a Roku remote at his home in Abington Massachusetts on Thursday May 7 2020

Derek Tirrell, Digital Team

In recent years, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more have emerged causing big changes in the TV industry. Cable TV was the mainstream way that viewers consumed TV but now streaming services offer a variety of fan favorite shows and movies as well as original content exclusive to their individual platform. In 2020, streaming services have many advantages over cable.

Too often when watching cable TV, a commercial break will happen at a climactic point in the story.”

— Derek Tirrell

Cable TV channels have commercials, so often times the content of cable TV shows must be tailored to the companies that are being promoted. Some companies will not want their products advertised on a show that is too extreme and controversial.

Streaming services get their money through monthly subscriptions. Not only does this give shows high budgets, but it allows them to keep the shows commercial free, which is a big selling point of the streaming services. Too often when watching cable TV, a commercial break will happen at a climactic point in the story. This takes the viewer out of the story that they were so immersed in moments ago. Without commercials, the viewer can stay immersed throughout the entire episode. In addition, watching a show without commercials makes viewing an episode faster.

Run time is another advantage that streaming service shows have over cable TV shows. Cable TV shows need to fit a time slot on the channel. There is always a show before or after it, so it must be over before the next one starts. This means that every episode of a cable TV show must fit the time slot and also leave time for commercials. This means that each episode must have around the same run time.

The problem is many stories in episodes need more time than the episode has. This leads to the story being rushed or completed in the next episode. On the other hand, some stories do not need the entire run time and the story begins to drag.

There is no run time issue on streaming service shows because they are released to be streamed anytime instead of premiered at a specific time. Streaming service shows can have episodes that run for a half hour and episodes that run for an hour and a half in the same season allowing the stories to be told at the appropriate length.

Streaming services also determine the release for their shows, then the subscriber can watch it anytime they want. On cable TV, a show will air usually once a week at a designated time. If someone wants to watch that show, they must tune in at that time, or watch it on demand, which is a lot less convenient. People could be busy when their favorite show is live on TV. This means that they will have to watch it on demand days later. On streaming services, once a show is released, it can be viewed at any time meaning someone could watch the show on the day it releases, but they can view it at a time convenient for them.

While cable TV shows have a set release format, streaming services can release their episodes in any way that they want. Some streaming services like Disney + release episodes for original shows weekly, but others will release an entire season of a show at once. The Netflix show “Daredevil” followed this formula. It would release an entire season on one day allowing the audience to watch the show in multiple sittings over a short period of time.This flexibility allows streaming services to determine the release schedule based on viewer feedback. This makes shows on streaming services more available to a wider audience compared to cable TV.

Some of these streaming services are made by large corporations such as Disney and Amazon who created Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video respectively. This is beneficial because the corporations give some shows movie sized budgets to make the shows movie quality. The best example of this is the show “The Mandalorian” on Disney Plus. This show was given a movie budget and the result was a movie quality TV show. The quality of the show pressured many fans, (myself included) to subscribe to Disney Plus in order to watch it.

Although some people believe that streaming services are overpriced and just a tool to make companies more money, streaming services allow many shows to be at their best. I hope that going forward, more streaming service shows are made with movie budgets so that the story can be told with the highest quality possible.