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Netflix Nation: The new American pastime

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By Fiona Rosenthal and Catherine Simon

I​t’s 1:37 a.m. and the glow of a screen is the only thing lighting up a dark bedroom. Sleep? No, Breaking Bad is too good of a show; let’s click the next episode.The binge-watching continues night after night with popular Netflix shows such as Orange Is the New Black, Arrested Development and House of Cards.
The cycle of binge-watching is all too familiar for many teens. Piper Jaffray, an investment bank that surveys teen habits, reports that teenagers spend 59 percent of their screen time watching Netflix and YouTube and 29 percent of their screen time watching cable television. Netflix reports to have 69 million members. The same trend is striking our community.

“Without Netflix, I would get my homework done on time, but I would not be the man I am today,” said senior Erik Swanson.

While this case may be extreme, many do consider Netflix a part of their every-day lives. Out of a brief survey of 115 WHS students, 81 percent said they have a Netflix subscription and 57 percent said Netflix is their preferred way of watching TV. Although 99 percent of surveyed teens have cable in their homes, streaming is revolutionizing the way they watch TV.

And it’s not just teens who are part of Netflix Nation.

Said English Teacher Ms. Bailey Verdone: “Netflix gave me the opportunity to regularly watch television shows, because I don’t watch enough TV to justify paying for cable.”

Founded in 1997, Netflix was originally an online movie-subscription service where members could rent unlimited DVDs for a monthly fee. In 2007, the company launched its streaming service, which is now the basis of its success. The company has become available on mobile devices, expanded to Europe and received 50 total Emmy nominations for original content.

The allure of the streaming service seems to be the very premise of Netflix. Senior Noelle Blackford said, “[There are] no commercials, unlimited episodes of the same show and I can watch it anywhere.”

Netflix is aware of its popularity among teens, and is adjusting its original programming to meet the consumer demand. According to The New York Times, Netflix has picked up Fuller House, a sequel to Full House; and Lost & Found Music Studios, a series on young musicians. Netflix has also added a film starring Viner Cameron Dallas, in Expelled. All these programs have a common goal: to appeal to the teenage audience.

The appeal of Netflix has certainly extended beyond teens as well. TV production teacher Mr. Jason Ruggiero said he and his wife recently binge-watched American Horror Story. Ms. Verdone said she prefers watching television shows and documentaries on Netflix, although she’d like a stronger movie selection.

As Netflix grows, it leaves one wondering where the future of cable TV lies. Said Mr. Ruggiero: “In the next five years, TV will be different. I think you’re going to buy…specific channels you want to watch. It’s going to be a game-changer.”

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Netflix Nation: The new American pastime