Rosemary Chesney, Campus Carrier arts and living editor
For most college students, watching television is a staple of their four-year academic careers. Television watching can be used either as restful downtime or as a chance for socializing with others. With an abundance of streaming services, this generation has moved away from watching television on cable networks to watching television on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or other streaming services.
A study done in 2022 by Horowitz Research reports that Netflix is the most popular streaming platform for youth, and that nine out of every 10 college students use Netflix weekly. Unlike other streaming services, there are no special bundles or student discounts for Netflix. The only three options are: basic $9.99, standard $15.49 and premium $19.99. The differences between them mainly focus on how many screens can watch a show at once. Sophomore Harmony Collins said that Netflix is her most used and favorite platform to watch television.
“Netflix just has the most popular tv shows that I would watch,” Collins said. “Also, it’s the one my family uses so I have access to it through them.”
According to Collins, Hulu is her least favorite streaming service due to the presence of ads on the platform. However, Hulu does offer special bundles for students. Instead of the original price of $7.99 a month, students get a discounted price of $1.99 a month. Or, for $12.99 a month people can get Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN. This bundle also comes with ads, however, but an extra seven dollars for premium gets rid of the ads for both Disney+ and Hulu in this bundle. Freshman Ashlyn Davidson agreed with Collins in saying that Hulu was still her least favorite streaming service, despite the bundle.
“I don’t like Hulu because even though you pay for it, they still make you watch ads,” Davidson said. “I only pay for the student price, and I still consider canceling sometimes.”
Another popular streaming service for college students is HBO Max. Previously, HBO Max had a student discount, however, now the student price is same as everyone else: $9.99 a month or $14.99 a month without ads. One unique aspect of HBO Max is that they produce their own original content. Davidson said HBO Max is her favorite streaming service to watch movies on.
“Even though I use Netflix more, HBO Max is just better quality,” Davidson said. “I feel like I have to filter through a lot of low-quality things to find good content on Netflix, but most things I see on HBO Max are good.”
Other popular streaming services include Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount+ and Peacock. Prime Student allows students to get half off a membership to Prime Video, paying $7.49 a month rather than $14.99. Students pay $3.75 a month with the student discount for Paramount+, which is 25% off the original price. There is no current student discount for watching Peacock, and everyone pays $4.99 a month.
One main reason students choose to watch television through any of these various streaming services is that it provides them a way to relax and decompress from their days. Sophomore Ella Parris said she typically rewatches her favorite sitcoms alone, such as “New Girl” or “The Office”, as a way to relax.
“Mostly if I’m rewatching something, it’s kind of just in the background,” Parris said. “If I feel like I want to watch something but my brain can’t process anything then I’ll watch a reality show like ‘Survivor’ or ‘The Bachelor’.”
When choosing which show to watch at the time, many students, like Davidson and Parris, report that they choose shows seasonally. According to Parris, she watches “Grey’s Anatomy” seasonally around springtime and “Gilmore Girls” in the fall because of the aesthetic of each show. Davidson said she also watches “Gilmore Girls” seasonally in the fall.
“Watching Gilmore Girls helps me escape reality and just brings me back to a simpler time when I watched it for the first time in middle school,” Davidson said. “It was a time when I didn’t have as much homework or responsibilities.”
Another reason students report choosing television shows to watch is based on nostalgia. Collins said that when she watches television, it is mainly old Disney or Cartoon Network shows from her childhood such as “That’s So Raven” and “Victorious”. “Julie and the Phantoms” is nostalgic for Davidson because the producers are the same as her old childhood favorite movie series, “High School Musical”. “The Office” is also a very nostalgic show for her.
“The Office is very nostalgic for me because I grew up watching it with my aunt,” Davidson said. “My immediate family didn’t get the humor so my aunt and I would always watch it together, and watching it just reminds me of all the times we’ve had together.