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How Has Mobile Streaming Impacted Society?

Discover the impact of streaming services on traditional TV and our own mental health. Dive into the binge-watching culture and the power of original content.

Mobile Streaming Impacted on Society

The past decade has witnessed a seismic shift in how people consume TV shows and movies. Platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, and countless others have not only transformed the entertainment landscape but also caused a significant impact on society as a whole.


Rise of Streaming Services

Over the past decade, streaming services have experienced explosive growth. According to the Motion Picture Association, as of 2020, there were more than 1.1 billion streaming subscriptions. The streaming phenomenon started with Netflix in the early 2010s when the company shifted its focus from DVD rentals to online movie and TV streaming.


Netflix is still the top streaming service, with over 220 million subscribers as of December 2023. However, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and Hulu have gained a solid following over the last several years.   


The Impact on Traditional Television and Movie Theaters

As many households turn to streaming for content, traditional network providers have struggled with declining viewership numbers. Box office revenues for movies have also decreased considerably. Global theater attendance has dropped yearly, with the Motion Picture Association reporting a decline of 4 percent in 2021.


Movie studios and TV networks have found innovative ways to remain competitive against the rise of streaming services. Many TV networks have launched streaming platforms to increase on-demand viewership numbers. Discovery Plus, HBO Max, and Paramount Plus are a few examples of TV network streaming services. To access, viewers must pay a monthly fee.


Movie studios make money by charging a licensing fee to permit content to appear on streaming platforms. Theaters have experienced a decline in ticket sales partly because of the availability of movies at home. The traditional theatrical release model changed by introducing the simultaneous distribution of movies at cinemas and at home.   


Binge-Watching Culture

One of the defining characteristics of streaming services is the ability to binge-watch entire seasons in one sitting. Many popular shows, such as House of Cards and Stranger Things, would drop whole seasons at once. Viewers have started consuming content differently and are moving away from watching one weekly episode. Consumers can immerse themselves in a show and choose when to watch new episodes based on their preferences.   


Binge-watching does come with its downsides. Studies have shown that excessive binge-watching can have adverse effects on a person’s physical and mental health. Binge-watching has been linked to poor sleep habits, extreme fatigue, and depression.  


The Power of Original “Water-Cooler” Content

Although streaming services started as platforms to share previously released movies and TV shows, the companies have expanded to include more original content. Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video have developed films and TV shows that can’t be watched elsewhere. The exclusivity leads to people fearing missing out and not being part of the conversation about the latest buzz-worthy show.  


One example of this is the limited TV series Tiger King. Sixty-four million households watched the documentary within a month of release, and it became a topic of conversation on social media, late-night TV, and news shows.


With the inclusion of a VPN service, viewers can now discover content that’s even more exclusive. A VPN masks your IP address and creates a private connection between your device and a server. You can access geo-restricted content from anywhere in the world and be aware of what’s happening on the other side of the globe.


The decline of Traditional TV Advertising

 mobile Streaming services has also disrupted traditional advertising models. Spending revenue for TV advertising is expected to drop to an all-time low in 2023.


Advertisers are shifting their focus from traditional TV commercials to targeted ads on streaming platforms. The model allows marketers to reach a highly engaged and niche audience. Streaming platforms collect information on viewers and can share the information with advertisers. By analyzing the data, advertisers provide more targeted ads that will likely experience a better ROI.


Data Privacy Concerns

The rise of streaming services has also raised concerns about data privacy. Online platforms gather extensive data on user preferences, viewing habits, and other personal information to make viewing recommendations. They also share the data with advertisers to help companies create targeted ads.


One concern about the algorithms streaming services use to recommend content is that they cause what’s known as “echo chambers.” Although the streaming services know your likes, the process could limit exposure to diverse perspectives. The echo chamber effect can prevent you from learning about different viewpoints outside your own.


The Future of Streaming and Society

Advances in technology, such as 5G and virtual reality, will further enhance the streaming experience, offering viewers immersive and interactive content. Netflix and other streamers have launched series such as Minecraft Story Mode to make viewers an active participant in the content.


However, challenges do lie ahead for streaming services. Content fragmentation across multiple streaming platforms may lead to subscription fatigue among viewers—who will likely get overwhelmed by too many choices. “Streaming wars” will still rage as platforms battle exclusive content rights.


As technology advances, streaming services’ impact on society will evolve, and more long-term effects of such phenomena will be eventually revealed.    




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