I’m a 70s baby.
So that means when it came to television my eyes were glued to shows like “All in the Family,” “Good Times” and one of my all-time favorites, the “Brady Brunch.”
One of my favorite episodes of the “Brady Bunch” is when the Brady family goes to Hawaii and some of the characters experience bad luck for wearing a necklace with a small statue of a tiki dangling from it.
The episode is a three-parter and I remember as a kid nearly collapsing in disappointment when I saw those evil white letters spread across the screen that said “To be continued.”
And did I get to see the following episodes the next day or even later on that week?
Nope, just like everyone else I had to wait an entire week to see what would happen to Greg, Peter and Bobby when they went to that spooky burial ground to undo the curse of the tiki.
Being kept in suspense is the one thing that I really disliked about that episode.
Well today, consumers can watch TV in an entirely different way and almost gone are the days when viewers have to wait an entire week to catch episodes of their favorite shows.
With services like On-Demand, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and a bunch of other companies that offer streaming, people have nearly total control of what they watch and when they want to watch it.
How many times have you heard about a groundbreaking new show through the media or through your friends, but felt no sense of urgency to catch the series on the night it airs, because you know that you can watch it anytime you want.
So instead of adjusting your schedule to watch the HBO show “Girls” for example, you decide to stream the entire first season and watch it in one day, which is the way many folks view programs these days, and the trend isn’t likely to reverse itself anytime soon.
To take advantage of this new normal, streaming companies like Netflix have moved into the business of creating their own television shows and offering entire seasons for viewers to watch instead of rolling out episodes one at a time.
The company released its first original series “House of Cards” this past Friday at midnight, starring Kevin Spacey, and the company is choosing to offer all 13 episodes at once to viewers, which is a huge attempt to not only give many consumers what they want, but also to move Netflix from being just a distribution company to being a hub for original content.
The company says that giving consumers the ability to access entire seasons up front puts Netflix in a better position to compete with those cable networks that are also moving towards making streaming a bigger part of their business.
“Part of our goal is to become like HBO faster than HBO can become Netflix,” said the company’s CEO, Reed Hastings, in a published interview. “Perhaps people saw us in the past as a distributor or aggregator. We want to have an experience that cannot be replicated by our competitors.”
In a seperate interview with Bloomberg, Hastings said he believed that offering entire seasons to consumers right off the bat will be the complete norm in the next couple of years, and he says when people look back; they’ll ultimately recognize that Netflix was responsible for sparking the change.
On the cusp
“We’re on the cusp of something that will change television forever,” he said. “Our view is that over the next couple of years as Internet TV really grows, people will look back and say that this was the turning point.”
Also, to many fans' liking, Netflix will be re-releasing the comedy series “Arrested Development” starring Jason Bateman.
The show was a cult favorite for three years on the Fox Network from 2003 to 2006 and Hastings believes releasing new episodes is just the beginning of consumers choosing streaming companies over cable television.
However some may disagree with Hastings because networks like HBO and Showtime have a lot more muscle in terms of overall reputation and just being in the consciousness of consumers, but Hastings believes eventually Netflix will be able to compete neck and neck with the many cable giants and be able to offer consumers just as much original content.
“Relative to HBO, we’re much deeper on the tech side, and relative to Amazon, were much deeper on the creative side,” he said.
“We’re able to do more and more calculations and big-data statistics so that what we do is represent Netflix more and more as a place where you come for relaxation escape.”
Some might say that creating original content is exactly what’s needed for Netflix, as the company’s image has taken a few hits lately, namely because of its reputation for offering old movie selections in its streaming packages.
Debra of Minneapolis said she recently bought a Netflix streaming package, but wasn’t too happy about the lack of viewing choices, nor about how difficult it was to get the streaming services going.
“We just upgraded to the Netflix instant streaming service,” she wrote in a ConsumerAffairs posting.
“Went through lots of technical hoops to make it happen (purchased a new Netflix ready Blu-ray player, etc.) We knew there were other ways of doing it.
"We were just trying to make our movie watching experience as easy as possible. We were so disappointed with the selection of old movies and TV shows available! These were not second run in our view, more like 4th 5th or worse," she wrote.
So it will be interesting to see how successful Netflix will be at re-strengthening its image among consumers and also how successful it will be in changing the way other companies and networks offer their programming.
Because a person should never have to wait an entire week to watch the conclusion of a multi-part episode, especially a little kid who just wanted to see how the Brady kids made out with the tiki necklace and that darn ancient curse.