Netflix faces challenger for online video streaming throne

Oh, Netflix. I can’t live with you, but I can’t live without you. Just as soon as I finish binge-watching one of your shows, I find myself trapped in the first episodes of another. I hate it, but I love it. Why must you hurt so good?

The rise of online streaming has certainly changed the playing field of television. I know for a fact it has had a massive impact of the lives of multiple college students around the world. I’m not entirely sure if it’s increased procrastination amongst the  student population, but I’m fairly confident that it has changed the meaning of the word.

Netflix, along with other video streaming websites, have been a noticeably present in the news the past couple of weeks. First, Netflix complained about the potential takeover of Time Warner Cable by Comcast, due to the fear that Comcast would then be able to charge increased prices, making Netflix less available for consumers. Comcast countered with accusing Netflix of “distorting the facts“ in order to improve its own business model. While these political and economical maneuvers didn’t interest me, it’s what came after these talks that got my attention.

One of the most common complaints directed towards Netflix is the lack of popular content. Of course, they’ve made their mark with incredible original content such as “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” but as far as current television shows and movies, they seem to fall behind. This failing makes it even bigger news that its “prime” competitor, Amazon Prime (see what I did there?) has just come to an agreement with HBO to feature the network’s massively popular shows like “Game of Thrones” and
“True Detective.”

In either an extremely poorly timed move by Netflix or a savvy move by Amazon Prime’s marketing team, Netflix had also just announced that it will raise prices for its online streaming service for new customers, though not for existing customers…yet. The appeal of constantly updated popular content with Amazon, along with possibly cheaper prices, may be enough for Netflix to take a substantial hit.

But Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings sees this as an opportunity, not a competition. He himself uses Amazon Prime’s services, pointing towards a future where cable essentially becomes obsolete. You could sign up for Netflix, Amazon Prime, even Hulu Plus, and cut the cable bill, receiving basically the same programming, on demand.

Unfortunately for Netflix, they may not be able to keep up with our insatiable need for new things. They have pointed to future attempts at new content, but, to put it bluntly, our society simply doesn’t want to wait. Take Hulu Plus as an example. Often, the company will place the most recently aired episode as Hulu Plus content only, forcing potential viewers to either pay for the service or wait an entire week for the episode to be moved to Hulu’s free programming. Hulu is clearly counting on the fact that many viewers would rather pay money than wait seven days to see the same episode.

After the novelty of Netflix wore off, we wanted more. Amazon Prime may be able to provide us with just that. The general opinion is that HBO produces higher quality shows than cable. Netflix, on the other hand, has many, many options, unfortunately most of them are obsolete and no good. While this may give some older shows and films a second life to appeal to a completely new audience, there is a reason why most of them have gone largely unwatched.

As far as I’m concerned, I say let the best man win. Let the two companies battle it out for my (and our) approval. After all, if I’m lazy enough to watch an entire season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in one sitting, I’m certainly not going to be motivated enough to take a stand for one of these companies.