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Netflix now has many haters but also many fans. The most important streaming platform has changed the way we watch television. Has this been good or bad?
Without a doubt, Netflix has changed the way we consume television. In the beginning, Netflix and the other streaming services were an advantage over cable TV: you could watch your favorite series without commercials and without schedules when you wanted. It was no surprise when many of us stopped watching cable TV to start subscribing to Netflix because it is easier and more comfortable. However, the streaming services and their advantages have also brought other consequences, not only for television but also for the big screen. Let's review them.
Leer en español: ¿Netflix nos está consumiendo?
Is Netflix consuming us?
Netflix started being just a streaming service. It is a mediator between us, the public, and the producers. Thus, Netflix brought us a monthly catalog of movies and series in exchange for a monthly subscription. Then it also became a producer, then their catalog expanded. Now it seems that we only consume Netflix originals. Undoubtedly, the content that Netflix produces is of high quality, but if we are addicted to watch their series and original films is not only due to the quality of their productions. Consume content through the platform is the easiest way to watch television, it is no surprise that we limit our demand for series to the Netflix catalog. And since Netflix shows us their own productions first, for obvious reasons, we are seduced by them.
In this way, Netflix takes care that we consume, above all, its original catalog. What does this mean? It may mean, on the one hand, that the platform has greatly limited our content consumption. It's normal that when you recommend a movie or a series to someone they question you: "Is it on Netflix?" It is the most comfortable way to consume series and movies. In this sense it seems that Netflix wants to consume us, forcing us to see only its original productions. Thus, it is a loss for us, the consumers, who now have, in theory, less supply of productions, because the streaming service is no longer a mediator but a producer.
What content are we consuming?
Now, let's take a look at the content that Netflix "makes us see". In the first place, it can not be denied that it is a varied and diverse content. Netflix has produced varied content in terms of genres and formats: horror, science fiction, documentaries, romantic comedies, stand up comedy, thriller, animated, etc. In this sense, although it could be said that Netflix limits us to the viewers with exclusive content from its production company, it can not be said that the content is limited because we find series and films for all the tastes. On the other hand, the producer has shown great interest in the talent of the countries it enters. Original productions from many places around the world are found on the platform. Thus, although there is no diversity of producers in the platform, there is diversity in the series and films from different parts of the world and to this extent Netflix does the role of mediator, because it brings to Latin America, for example, German and Spanish productions, content that was not within our reach before. And visceversa, it takes the Latin American content to other parts of the world.
According to this, perhaps the limitation of producers is compensated by the diversity of productions. It is different than the movies that we can see through cable television: from different producers, but most are North American. We have been consuming almost exclusively American content for a long time and Netflix may have changed this a bit. I think that while Netflix is taking over our way of consuming television, is taking advantage of that power to bring to the small screen good quality productions from around the world and documentaries of great political value. Netflix uses his voice.
How does this affect the film industry?
Now, not only Netflix but streaming platforms in general are no longer changing just our way of watching television but also our relationship with cinema. In the open letter to Netflix published by the Film Journal, the non-conformism of some industry professionals was expressed because the platform refuses to release its films first in movie theaters and it was argued that streaming platforms would end European cinema as it is conceived until now. According to the espinoff portal, this refusal of Netflix may be due to the fact that, since its productions generate so much expectation, the exclusive one can bring subscribers to it. Unlike the streaming service, now also a producer, Amazon, whose productions do not generate as much expectation and therefore prefer to release their films first in movie theaters.
The truth is that movies made for the small screen have existed for a long time. HBO, before having a streaming service, already produced original films exclusive to its cable channels. In the Golden Globe Awards there is even a category for the Best Movie or miniseries made for television, and this exists before the web series and streaming services. What happens is that only until this moment, the web cinema and for the small screen represents a competition for the cinema for the big screen. And not only an economic competition but a competition in recognition. Never before has a film made for television been honored at a European festival, and this year Roma, Netflix's original, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Festival. There are some, of course, who continue to defend their beliefs, such as the Cannes festival, which did not feature this film because it was a film produced by a streaming service.
What proves this is that maybe the film industry was not ready for competition. What we can do as consumers is expand our spectrum. Consume the best of Netflix but without limiting ourselves to it, do not forget that there are other platforms and other small producers that can expand the content offer.
LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez Pabón
* The opinion of the editor does not represent LatinAmerican Post