Contributor: Katie Karpinski
The 2017 Emmy Awards left some people scratching their heads. Whereas Netflix and HBO were the predicted front-runners, the coveted spot as “Best Drama Series” actually went to the streaming service Hulu for their original show, “A Handmaid’s Tale.” This victory wasn’t the only win for Hulu, as they continued to win another four awards. Netflix went home with four awards, and HBO (which had the most nominations) went home with ten awards, being the winningest recipient of the evening.
Now, I can go on and on about the various aspects of the Emmy Awards (I’m awards-show junky with no shame) but what I’m more interested in is that fact that over half of the coveted trophies for the night went to digital streaming services, not traditional networks and programs. The Emmy’s clearly illustrated an obvious shift in how we consume television. I know what you’re thinking—“duh, we know-- these services have been around for years!” Yes, they have been around for years. But unlike other services and products, these streaming services have maintained, and in some cases increased their market share. Unlike most emerging technology, these aren’t trends that last for a few months before slowly disappearing. No—digital streaming has staying power.
So what’s the secret behind streaming’s success?
It can be broken down into 3 C’s—Cost, Convenience, and Community.
It goes without saying that streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have an obvious cost-leadership in the television industry. Beginning at only $8/month, Netflix users have unlimited access to thousands of shows and movies. Compare that to the $50+ charge for basic cable each month, and it’s obvious why consumers are switching. Even more important, this cost leadership does not come with a decreased quality of service, as evidenced with a record-breaking number of nominations from various streaming services. Streaming services have squeezed their way into the industrial sweet-spot, providing quality products and services with minimal cost to the customer.
Whether you were born in the time of VHS or DVR, I’m sure you remember the panic that ensued after forgetting to record your favorite show. Traditional programming was always one-sided: one time, one place, and one showing. You had to tailor your schedule around the TV guide, and often had to choose which primetime show you wanted to see that night. Streaming services have completely reversed this effect, giving customers control on when, where, and how they watch. This type of personalization is a luxury for some people, and at such an affordable price, it’s simply a win-win for consumers.
While device and internet connectivity are certainly major players in this game, streaming services also provide a more nostalgic value to customers—connectivity to each other. Streaming services are not tethered down by the constraints of traditional programming, allowing them to discuss topics and include people previously not featured on mainstream TV. People of all different races are finally being featured on popular shows, and the LGBTQ community is also receiving proper recognition. Services such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO are building communities around their shows, showing their viewers what they want to see—pieces of themselves.