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Netflix at the Nexus

Content, Practice, and Production in the Age of Streaming Television

Edited By Theo Plothe and Amber M. Buck

Netflix’s meteoric rise as an online content provider has been well documented and much debated in the popular press and in academic circles as an industry disrupter, while also blamed for ending TV’s "Golden Age." For academic researchers, Netflix exists at the nexus of multiple fields: internet research, information studies, media studies, and television and has an impact on the creation of culture and how individuals relate to the media they consume. Netflix at the Nexus examines Netflix’s broad impact on technology and television from multiple perspectives, including the interface, the content, and user experiences. Chapters by leading international scholars in television and internet studies provide a transnational perspective on Netflix’s changing role in the media landscape. As a whole, this collection provides a comprehensive consideration of the impact of streaming television.

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Chapter 1. TV IV’s New Audience: Netflix’s Business Model and Model Spectators (Jana Zündel)

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TV IV’S NEW AUDIENCE

Netflix’s Business Model and Model Spectators

Jana Zündel

Introduction: In Praise of Binge-Watching

Coinciding with the launch of the second season of its original series Stranger Things on October 27, 2017, Netflix published the following entry on Twitter: “Ready. Set. Binge! #StrangerThings 2.” To promote the “up-to-dateness” of Netflix’s “programming,” an embedded GIF showed a five-second countdown, in essence asking users to watch the show’s newest installments in a single sitting. This entry is but one example of Netflix’s strategy for promoting binge-watching of series available on its platform. By suggesting the hashtag #letsbinge, Netflix introduced a means for users to share their favorite shows and recommend binge-watching.

Binge-watching, by definition, means the consumption of one media format several hours in a row (a.k.a. media bingeing, Devasagayam, 2014). Since Netflix first launched internationally, this mode of reception has mainly been associated with both streaming media and television series. The “personalized delivery of content independent from a schedule” (Lotz, 2017) through online distribution opened up new possibilities of watching serial formats that were not initially intended during their original broadcast. A large part of Netflix’s programming consists of fictional series that are explicitly recommended to be binged. This includes both so-called “Netflix Originals” as well as syndicated ← 13 | 14 → programs which used to be broadcast periodically and interrupted by advertising breaks. With their originals, however, Netflix has brought something new...

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