I vaguely recall being eight-years-old and heading to the off-license with my dad. I picked out a Freddo chocolate frog and he picked out a pack of smokes and the Christmas TV guide. When we got home, we sat down and flicked through. Both of us had a glint in our eyes as we sought out our favorite Christmas films that would be shown on TV in the sleepy week between Christmas and New Year. We scrawled the times for Elf, Love Actually, and It’s A Wonderful Life on the calendar. This joyful anticipation was a special highlight and sitting down as a family to watch Christmas movies was special.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and I legitimately just watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas in the middle of August. Why? I have no other reason other than the fact I saw it was on Netflix. It’s just as well because with all the new films landing on Netflix each month, we probably won’t have time at Christmas to relive old classics.
This is just one of the many ways that Netflix has drastically changed the way we view films & TV. We’re living in a world where we no longer have to wait until Christmas to watch Christmas movies or until the weekend to watch HBO’s impressive lineup of movies. We can watch 50,000 movies any time we like, for a very small subscription fee.
The upshot of this is the choice and the freedom to watch boxsets whenever we like. The downside is the increase in a binge-watching culture. If you’ve ever watched Breaking Bad, you’ll be more than familiar with the experience of cramming five or six episodes into an afternoon. The show creators even admitted that they don’t think the show would have reached the height it did if it weren’t for Netflix.
The ability to catch up on episodes and watch multiple in one go has people hooked in a whole new way. People who joined the hype halfway through the series were able to wait alongside longterm fans for the final season to come out. This massively boosted the show’s viewership. Binge-watching culture is great for the creators, but not so great for our productivity.
In addition to being able to consume entertainment any time, we can now consume it anywhere. Netflix allows you to sign in on multiple devices so you can watch your tablet on the bus to work, on a plane, or under the covers in bed. Watching TV is no longer a unique shared experience. It requires agreeing on what to watch instead of watching your first choice on your tablet in the comfort of your bedroom.
Ultimately, the freedom and accessibility Netflix provides is undoubtedly an incredible gift. Still, I’d like to take a moment to remember the “good old days” when receiving the Christmas TV guide was the most exciting time in the entertainment year. Now, please excuse me while I rewatch the Friends Christmas specials on my iPad.