Nowadays, when I talk to my sons I feel like all of my stories begin with, “Once upon a time.” However, it seems that I’ve begun to enjoy a modern entertainment platform to move me far away from the branding of “Fuddy Duddy Old Man,” which seems to be my default in the face of my children.
I think that middle-aged people like me believe that you have to admire Netflix.
When I was a younger man, we had video stores: the biggest of which was Blockbuster. Blockbuster was a “super” store. It contained a vast library of mostly family-friendly video content that was affordable and accessible because there was a Blockbuster in every neighborhood.
Blockbuster had some limitations. It was a physical store with actual hours of operation, and even though it was open 7 days a week and closed at midnight every night, it opened at 10 am in the morning which could leave you craving video entertainment in the deepest hours of the night. Also, Blockbuster charged late fees, and for failing to rewind the videos there was a naughty charge. A positive was that when Blockbuster obtained too many copies of an item, they sold the extra copies at a fraction of the cost (sometimes $5), and for many of us, our video libraries were built on these purchases. The video store was a very lucrative business.
Then came Netflix, which capitalized on the video store model and did it one better. Netflix took old content languishing on store shelves, and via the internet, repackaged, and granted 24/7 access to that content. There was a nominal monthly membership fee, so there was no per video fee restricting access. You didn’t have to worry about lateness, or rewind charges, or even video availability. You just had to worry about your wifi connection.
Binge-watching became a thing. Watching the entire run of a favored TV series was now possible. Not only can you watch the entire run of a TV show from start to finish, but Netflix keeps track of it for you. You can watch several shows simultaneously or concurrently, with or without repetition. You no longer have to wait for a Star Trek marathon. You can watch Seven of Nine anytime you like. (Yes, I DO know that she was in Star Trek: Voyager and NOT the original show.)
There’s more. Not only has Netflix made your TV-watching time more efficient by demolishing your, “There’s nothing to watch” excuse, but instead of sitting back and reaping the riches of “re-runs,” Netflix has expanded it’s platform with original programming, as well. Further, many of the original shows that Netflix puts out defy simple categorical niches. Programs like Jessica Jones, Stranger Things, and the OA now stand a chance because they can be seen on a platform that celebrates true originality in a bold and enlightened marketplace as opposed to network television, which has to answer to picky sponsors.
You have to admire Netflix. They busted the Blockbuster.