Streaming is the new cable: student streaming on the rise

Alana George, Campus Carrier Asst. Arts & Living Editor

Television and movie streaming services are now the top-earning entertainment platforms of the millennial generation. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, around 6 out of 10 adults between the ages of 18 and 29 prefer streaming services over cable. The television market has been shifting toward streaming services for a while now, and the effects on culture and on cable companies is now being strongly felt.

Curt Hersey, assistant professor of communication, said that this market shift has been happening in the last three or four years. He said the biggest players right now are Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Hersey also cited how people are now cancelling their cable, or “cord-cutting,” in favor of streaming services.

“If people are cancelling their cable, you know they’re not just no longer watching television,” Hersey said. “They are shifting to streaming, and you’ve seen a lot of activity in terms of people leaving cable.”

For him and for his students, Hersey said that Netflix is without a doubt the service used the most. Out of 33 Berry students polled, 20 of them use Netflix the most, as opposed to Hulu, YouTube, or Amazon Prime. The next closest number was for YouTube, which accounted for 12 students. It is clear, then, that Berry students have their favorite platforms, and these platforms do have a large impact on the current market.

One of the draws of Netflix in recent years has been the original content, which Hersey cites as the future of streaming. He said that shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “Stranger Things” on Netflix and “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu have been essential for driving subscription.

Hersey said the reason for this shift to original programming is due to the networks becoming less willing to let the streaming services have their reruns. The networks got together and created Hulu to have competition with Netflix because they realized they were giving their content away. But now the streaming services are doing just fine, especially Netflix and its original content among college students.

“For Netflix, they saw the writing on the wall,” Hersey said. “They saw that they were no longer going to be able to get all of these reruns; those reruns were going to start going to other streaming services. They needed their own content to keep subscribers,” Hersey said.

For new streaming services this year, Hersey said that the main two things to watch out for will be Disney Plus and Apple TV +.

Disney Plus, according to Hersey, is going to be the 100-pound gorilla, and everyone is just waiting for it to drop. Disney has not released a lot of information about the service yet, but according to Hersey and a Digital Trends article by Rick Marshall, the shows and movies included at the launch will come from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. There are many reports of different Marvel original content and the promise that every single animated movie from the Disney catalogue will be available shortly after its launch.

The other big player this year, Apple TV +, promises original content and a variety of movies, including special projects with different celebrities, a few of whom have already hinted at these projects on their social media.

Hersey said that the entire industry is on edge for this launch because of how much Apple can invest in the project.

“Apple’s got everybody perked up because if you look at how much money they have, for a while they had more money than any other company, and so they have incredibly deep pockets if they decided they wanted to compete,” Hersey said.

With two more new competitors entering the field, the streaming industry becomes even more complicated as consumers are weighed down with the options.

“What will be interesting to see is how much consumers are willing to navigate a new world of 12 or 15 streaming services, channels, apps,” Hersey said.

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