Beginning for most people with Netflix in 2007, the streaming market has quickly exploded with a variety of service providers, each offering its own unique variety of content, emerging as the dominant way for students to enjoy entertainment media.
With so many streaming options available today, it has given students a chance to hone in on both what they want to watch the most and which platform provides the best experience for their needs. For most, streaming services have completely replaced live television.
“I don’t really watch a lot of like cable or network television at all just because it’s less convenient, so I just watch whatever is on the platform because it’s just what I go to first,” said Niki Scheinberg, a junior journalism major.
Most Memphis students have access to many, if not all, popular streaming services, often paying for one service themselves, while having the password to a friend’s account on a different platform.
For many students, Netflix remains the dominant streaming platform, supplemented by Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and now Disney+ as well. Every student admitted to using a streaming service at least once a day, even if it is for nothing more than background noise while working on something else.
“I use streaming services because I’m usually in the mood for a certain genre or a certain TV show, and with those services, I can pick and choose what I want to watch and when I want to watch it,” said freshman business major Jake Raggio.
This sentiment is shared by most streaming service users, who enjoy the wide choice of programs streaming services provide, as well as the convenience of being able to pick what episode to watch whenever you want.
This accessibility is what sets streaming services apart from other forms of entertainment media, and students were quick to point out that being able to stream from almost any device is the biggest benefit of using today’s streaming services.
Higher levels of choice are also another major benefit that streaming services provide when compared to traditional platforms for entertainment media. However, due to the nature of content licensing and the rise of streaming service exclusive shows, consumers often must choose which streaming platform to use not only by what content they offer, but also on the content they create as well.
“I used to have HBO NOW, but then I switched to Amazon Prime because HBO NOW was just too expensive, and it didn’t have enough options or stuff that I liked, so I got Prime,” said Dasia Lloyd, a sophomore Art Major.
Due to the popularity of these exclusive shows, consumers often scramble to register for a platform they may not typically use, only to view this specific exclusive content. This was the case when Disney+ launched this past November, with many users joining just to watch "The Mandalorian" as it began airing.
Because not everyone watches these shows, there have been talks that this creates a higher social status for those who can afford to use and watch more streaming services, alienating those who cannot. However, some students don’t think that’s the case.
“I think it has less to do with status and more to do with just being part of the cultural conversation, being up to date on what are essentially the cultural trends,” UofM student Jonathan Webber.