Netflix and Amazon - Changing the Way We Watch Television

As of 2021, Amazon has over 200 million Prime subscribers - Netflix has almost 214 million

Over the past decade, and particularly over the past few years, two key players in the world of online streaming have been changing the way in which we consume digital media. These two companies are, of course, Netflix and Amazon. Amazon’s Prime and Instant Video services enable users to rent and buy films in a wide range of genres or to watch them as part of a $99 annual subscription. Netflix operates on a similar model, providing everything from documentaries to original TV series for viewers across the world to stream.

Amazon Prime Video

As of 2021, Amazon has over 200 million Prime subscribers. 147 million are based in the US. Amazon Prime Video counted more than 175 million unique viewers in 2021, motivated by Amazon’s original films and TV style series. This really pays off: statistics demonstrate that though Amazon may pay around $72 million to create show (as was the case with The Man in the High Castle), this show will in reality cost just $63 per Prime subscriber. Netflix, too, has had great success with its original films and series, known as Netflix Originals. Netflix Originals began airing in 2011 (6 years after the company was founded) and Netflix garnered no less than 31 prime time Emmy awards for its first three Originals: House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, and Orange is the New Black. It took Netflix just 12 years to build a 25 billion yearly revenue from its subscribers, and now, Netflix has almost 214 million subscribers in 2022

Netflix logo

Against serialisation? Online streaming and ‘binge watching’

The phrase ‘Netflix and chill’ has become synonymous with a good time at home, spawning a wealth of memes. Viewers love series such as The Crown and Orange is the New Black, both available on Netflix. However, this is not serialization as we used to know it. In 2017, statistics indicated that Netflix viewers collectively watched over 1 billion hours of content on the platform every single week. Many of these hours will have been part of a long ‘binge’ where a viewer watches as many episodes of a show as they can over a single day, night, or weekend. A similar story can be told of series on Amazon Prime. 

Watching TV

Netflix operates by releasing every episode of a given season of a series in one go. This is contrary to a more ‘traditional’ model of televisual consumption whereby users would structure their week around the showing of the latest hour-long episode of their favourite cop serial at a fixed time. With Netflix and Amazon Prime, viewers can watch as much as they want, whenever they want. Satisfaction is immediate, absorbing, and addictive. Indeed, in 2016 Netflix performed its own study of viewers’ consumption habits, finding that its users would tend to watch entire seasons of series within a single week, averaging out at 2 hours’ viewing time per day within that week.

Bridgerton
The 10-time nominated Emmy award winner, Bridgerton - on Netlix

One of the key features of both Amazon and Netflix is that these platforms provide their subscribers and users with personalized content. If you watch a Bollywood film on Amazon Instant Video tonight, you can bet that tomorrow when you head over to the Amazon platform, Bollywood movies will feature heavily in the items that are being promoted for your consumption. Amazon will also email users regularly with recommendations that are based on their previous viewing habits. Watch a documentary about the environment on Netflix, and environmental content will seem to be everywhere the next time that you log in!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, on Amazon, was one of the most nominated shows at the Emmys in 2021.

This customized service can be useful as it enables you to enjoy the instant satisfaction of tried and tested genres, new films by beloved actors, and content relating to topics you love. But, sometimes this aggressive personalization can lead to Netflix and Amazon hiding content from you that you would adore, if only it was presented to you. So, in the interests of breaking out of that solipsistic bubble, here are four underwatched shows on Netflix and Amazon that you may have missed out on but should definitely check out:

 1)     If you love beautifully-shot documentaries like Nostalgia for the Light, then you should definitely take a look at Tales by Light. Available on Netflix, this is a miniseries of pieces by documentary filmmakers and photographers featuring exquisite locations.

2)     Like musicals? You will laugh and dance along to The Get Down, which was directed by none other than Baz Luhrmann of Romeo + Juliet fame. Set in the Bronx in the 1970s, this uplifting hip-hop musical follows the fortunes of an aspiring poet called Zeke.

3)     Pushing Daisies is one of the most underwatched comedies on Amazon – and this fact is a travesty of justice! This show revolves around a pie maker called Ned who can revive the dead by touching them once – but who will kill them again by touching them a second time. He’s already revived his childhood sweetheart Chuck – but can he resist touching her a second time?

The slick cop thriller Justified follows U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who is a modern day nineteenth century-style lawman, enforcing his brand of justice in a way that puts a target on his back with criminals.

Published on March 1st, 2022. Written by Sandy Steel for Television Heaven.