Netflix’s Threat to the Entertainment Industry

Netflix's Threat to the Entertainment Industry

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix is to quarantine what sunlight is to life, an essential factor of survival. Okay, maybe classifying Netflix as a basic need to sustain life is a bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly helps one pass the time while confined to his or her home. If one were to browse Netflix, he would come across the category of shows and movies that are the “Top 10 in the U.S. Today.” Recently, the majority of this category is “Netflix Originals,” or material that is exclusively available on Netflix. With all the hype around these Netflix Originals, could Netflix alter the entire entertainment industry?
Contrary to its implication, the term “Netflix Original” does not necessarily mean that Netflix is involved in the production of a series or film from its inception. For example, shows such as “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Master of None” were created by independent companies, and Netflix simply bought the rights to the series. However, Netflix has also conceptualized and funded series like “Love” and “Dear White People.” Simply put, Netflix Originals are movies and shows that are only available on the Netflix streaming site, and these exclusive forms of entertainment have brought change to today’s entertainment industry.
Before streaming services such as Netflix began releasing their own movies and series, the entertainment industry was free from the threat presented by original content from streaming services. Television shows were viewed weekly at a specific time, and producers had to work within the time limits of television networks. Viewers had to sit through commercials while watching their favorite series. Upon a new movie’s release, film fans had to go to the theatre to view new releases or wait for them to come out on DVD to watch in their own home. However, Netflix has changed the way the world enjoys television shows and movies. Netflix enables users to have masses of content available whenever they want, leading to the phenomenon of binge-watching. Netflix users are not limited by a television network’s schedule or commercials, and they have the leisure of watching movies without leaving their homes.
Furthermore, Netflix Originals have brought competition to the entertainment industry. Netflix has an advantage that independent television and film companies do not have: the ability to research what types of content viewers want. Netflix researchers can see what people are searching for and cater new films to fit these desires. The Netflix Original “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” represents this advantage. The movie’s director, Susan Johnson, recounts the making of the film: “So when they realized that people were looking for romantic comedies and they didn’t have enough material they put this all together. It is so smart. Studios can’t do that, and independent studios certainly can’t do that.” While this approach to filmmaking is certainly innovative and intelligent, it seems formulaic. Traditional film companies pursue an idea for the art of filmmaking, but Netflix pursues ideas to make great sums of money. It appears that Netflix’s formula for films is solely about making the most money rather than expressing art in the form of cinematography.
Additionally, Netflix Originals have received criticism from those who believe these series and films are illegitimate in comparison to independently-produced entertainment. However, some Netflix Original shows and movies have proven these critics wrong. There is ongoing debate as to whether Netflix Originals should be considered for awards. Many critics, such as Steven Spielberg, believe that films produced by streaming services should be regarded as television and not considered for prestigious awards. Despite these criticisms, the Netflix Original series “Roma” won three Oscars in 2019. Also, some Netflix Originals have brought in big names such as Meryl Streep, Jennifer Aniston, and Adam Sandler. Netflix Originals present a major threat to the traditional entertainment industry. Whether one thinks this is a good or bad thing is up to him, but what is objectively true is that in order to combat this competition, entertainment must find ways to innovate and attract audiences to the box office or traditional filmmaking may become an outdated art form.