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Will Netflix and Amazon kill domestic TV networks leading to homogenised entertainment?


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#1
Nick1984

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I can't speak for other countries, but this is a trend I'm noticing more and more in the UK.

Traditionally BBC, ITV and Sky have dominated. These three networks, barring the odd American movie, showed British-made TV for most of their schedules.

In recent years audiences, especially the young, have abandoned these traditional channels in favour of Californian giants Netflix and Amazon Prime which, for the most part, show American content.

Will we soon find ourselves in a world when Netflix and Amazon dominate global TV, where most content is produced in America for American tastes, and local/national content is severely diminished?

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#2
Nick1984

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A couple of recent articles on the subject

https://theguardian....-more-on-demand

The BBC is facing a crisis over its youth audience after admitting that young people are spending more time watching Netflix than all of its BBC TV services each week, and listening to more music on streaming services such as Spotify than BBC radio stations.

The corporation has traditionally dominated the UK TV and radio landscape but is having to reinvent the way it connects with media-savvy young audiences who are turning increasingly to digital services – mostly provided by US tech companies such as YouTube, Apple and Netflix – for entertainment and news.




https://www.dailymai...ndersnatch.html

'Netflix won Christmas': Fans praise streaming services 'festive' shows including Bird Box, You and Black Mirror's Bandersnatch as BBC sees another year of falling ratings

Netflix have garnered high praise for their new releases with some fans saying they have 'won Christmas' as their latest shows have left fans gripped.



#3
Raklian

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The Americanization of the world's cultures continues, so it seems. 


What are you without the sum of your parts?

#4
Nick1984

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The Americanization of the world's cultures continues, so it seems.

Only around 5% of content is non-American such as Japanese anime, Bollywood movies and British comedies, the rest is American.

And what little original non-American content is there is highly Americanised...

https://medium.com/@...ed-ff10cdc41069

A prime example of such a threat is Degrassi. It is a Canadian drama franchise that accelerated the stardom of Drake, the rapper, and featured the lives of Canadian teenagers as they navigate high school. It was recently sold to Netflix. Although the storyline remains in Canada, Canadians reviewers cannot help themselves but noticed the Americanisation of the show. For instance, the school student counsellor is seen counselling students to consider, only American universities, which is almost unheard and not practised in most Canadian high schools.



https://www.telegrap...-welsh-valleys/

“Watching Sex Education on Netflix and I am confused about why this seems to be set in an American high school that's been dropped in the middle of England,” read one typical comment online.

The answer lies in Netflix’s ambitions to take on the BBC, which has sought to position itself as a broadcaster that invests in British ideas and talent while painting US rivals as tech companies that commission by algorithm.

Netflix wants to show a commitment to making shows in Britain while marketing them to a global audience more attuned to US high school movies than a wet weekend in South Wales.

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#5
rennerpetey

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Homogenised culture is the result of more and more contentedness.  Locality becomes irrelevant when you live in the digital community.  The only question was who was going to lead this digitization and therefore direct digital culture.  


John Lennon dares you to make sense of this

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#6
Nick1984

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Homogenised culture is the result of more and more contentedness. Locality becomes irrelevant when you live in the digital community. The only question was who was going to lead this digitization and therefore direct digital culture.

Makes sense that in a connected world it's the big Silicon Valley companies that now control the flow of culture.

Netflix, Amazon, Google, YouTube, Apple and Facebook are all rapidly growing their entertainment and media output.

Also, being based in California giving them easier access to Hollywood talent meaning that traditional and non-US media companies just don't stand a chance.

When I was younger we relied on British companies for entertainment...

BBC, ITV and Sky for TV
HMV and Virgin for music
Odeon for movies
Sinclair Spectrum for games

Now we go to the big US companies for the above where the output in tailored to American culture and tastes.

#7
Alric

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It is kind of like the 4x strategy games, going for the culture victory by turning everyone to our side.



#8
Alislaws

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In the UK particularly, regardless of the fees charged by the service, ITV, Sky, Channel 4 ETC. all have an extra £150.50 a year in licence fees users have to pay. 

 

For Netflix & Amazon, people don't have to pay this. 

 

I have literally turned down a year of 'free' Sky TV (they do my internet, it was a deal) because even without them earning anything  it would cost me £12.50 per month. more than an amazon prime subscription (£7.99) that includes delivery bonuses etc. and approaching double the £6.99 Netflix subscription. 

 

So there's no way any Non-BBC company will be able to compete long term. 

 

The BBC just doesn't produce enough shows to take on the big US companies, especially at nearly twice the price. 

 

Also I don't know if its just me but considering it has 900+ channels, there is very little quality content available on Sky at any given time in my experience.


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#9
Nick1984

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So there's no way any Non-BBC company will be able to compete long term.


That's true, there's a lot of monopolisation going on.

Sky (which operates in UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany and Italy) was recently taken over by Comcast, Channel 5 was bought out via Viacom and ITV have been subject to US takeover attempts too.

#10
Alislaws

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So there's no way any Non-BBC company will be able to compete long term.


That's true, there's a lot of monopolisation going on.

Sky (which operates in UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany and Italy) was recently taken over by Comcast, Channel 5 was bought out via Viacom and ITV have been subject to US takeover attempts too.

 

Well that makes me feel better, if one American company is pushing a bunch of other American companies out of business that feels like it will be less of a problem than an American company wiping out all home grown entertainment. 

 

Of course this just means the home grown entertainment has already been taken over. 



#11
omega_tyrant

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Yeah, the lack of diversity in entertainment is one reason why I don't watch much TV or go to see many movies. 

 

Nothing speaks to me.

 

I can actually see an unintended side effect of many people doing this same thing, by largely abandoning the mediums as a whole until they can produce content that tailors to a wider range of people.


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#12
caltrek

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Shoot, I am finding that nothing speaks to me either, and I am an American.

 

 

I am wondering if the golden age of British comedy has passed, or whether I just haven't been able to find the right channel yet to give me the latest.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#13
starspawn0

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I also have a hard time finding good content. Often, Netflix suggests things to me that I don't particularly like, but watch a few of them anyways, as they are better than the alternatives; and this just probably reinforces their machine learning algorithms' guess as to what I like -- meaning I will get more of the same.

I am no so sure it is a "lack of diversity" that is the issue -- it's more that I'm just really picky, and only a tiny sliver of films and tv programs interest me. I have the same problem with choosing music. I can spend hours listening to parts of music tracks (if I listened to the whole thing, I'd never finish), and come away empty-handed, nothing to add to my collection of "likes".

When it comes to films at theaters, even most of the ones at Landmark Theaters don't interest me. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to live for a few months in Santa Monica, California (very near the coast!), and finally found a theater or two that had films I actually liked. One of these was Laemmele, owned by Robert Laemmele. The theater had been in the family for generations. Anyways, I remember that they showed indie and low-budget good films that were not showing anywhere else. Maybe I just happened to be there at a good time for the theater, and that now they are more mainstream in the selection.
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#14
Yuli Ban

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I've altogether stopped watching TV and let my Netflix account run out because I realized most of what I want to see is either not on these sites, available to view for free on YouTube/Vimeo/DailyMotion/etc., too long to get invested in, or still inside my head. Also, I want to binge Stranger Things all at once.

 

I do agree that we will see more non*homogenized entertainment in the future. Indeed, the biggest driver of a lot of trends in the past has been the fact the viewer had absolutely no control over what they were able to watch or when they were able to watch it. When something was going to air on TV, it was an event. You gathered your family or friends together, or you snuck up past bedtime or tried to allot some time in your day to see it. Certain days became known for certain shows and blocks.

 

Then came VHS and DVR. That was the first time that viewers had any level of control over when they consumed media. I remember TiVo became so big that there was even the 'TiVo Effect.'  It was debatable whether it was actually a thing, but advertisers couldn't really rely on TV shows as they had. But the big problem was always that you had to wait for something to air, and you needed that channel in the first place. Cable as it was made it difficult because you couldn't just pick and choose which channels you wanted. So even if you're like my mother and only ever watch 3 channels, you have to pay $100 a month for around 2,000— which includes 800 channels of pure filler, 200 music streaming channels, etc. And even then, you're subject to scheduling. You want to watch a specific episode of a specific show? Too bad, you have to hope a specific channel chooses to air it. If it's during a time you're not present to watch it, you'd better have DVR. If not, tough luck sunshine. 

This is how you usually discovered new shows, of course— I remember pestering my parents to get Cartoon Network just so I could watch Ed Edd n Eddy way back around 2002 or so, and that's how I discovered that whole generation of cartoons. Despite this, even as far back as then, I wished for a way to choose what I wanted to watch and when.

 

What's more, shows were written around advertising rather than the other way around. That's why TV shows were always either 30-minute blocks or hour-long blocks, as well as why episodes to shows were rarely actually that long rather than 22 minutes (or 11 minute episodes doubled up). Going back to when I was a kid, I distinctly remember how TV shows were constructed not because I remembered the plot beats but because I timed when the commercials would air. The way TV shows were shot and edited were fit around commercials. Now that I've all but unplugged, it's hilarious how totally advertising had taken over TV. 

 

All of these together made for an experience that was nostalgic if you grew up with it but altogether unpleasant to sit through today. TV shows made for cable broadcasting feel rushed, like they're just distractions from the commercials rather than the other way around. The way they use commercial breaks to build tension is fine since it is a creative use of limitations, but it gets tiresome when you're watching these shows on a streaming service and everything just comes to a halt, fades out for a second, and then you get a minute-long recap of what you just saw before moving on. Thankfully you can skip that, but that I think is part of the reason why streaming is such a gamechanger. 

 

There is just so much choice now. I don't have to wait for pre-scheduled marathons to binge certain episodes of Ed Edd n Eddy (which I still enjoy plenty); I can just view every episode on YouTube in whatever order I want, for however long I want. I can also view behind the scenes, fan theories, and remixes of episodes that I'd never have seen on TV. As a result, you are seeing some changes in how shows are being made as well. Since ads can just pop up separately from these videos (unless you have adblockers), the writers don't have to accommodate for them. And since there are no fixed blocks, shows can run for however long they want per episode. And since they don't have to worry about the FCC regulating content so as to not offend people, they can get away with a lot more stuff. There's absolutely no doubt that the cable companies have been fighting this, going down kicking and screaming, because they all but controlled how popular culture functioned for decades. The only reason to watch TV anymore is for either regularity or because some channels are holding certain shows hostage and won't let them go.

 

 

Edit: Meant to say "non homogenized" entertainment at the start. Otherwise this post doesn't make much sense.


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#15
starspawn0

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That's probably a good idea, and will save you money.

On the other hand: having common cultural reference points is good for conversation. When talking to people, if you run out of other things to say, you can always ask, "So what movies have you seen lately?"

I personally could talk to a much greater spectrum of humanity if I only liked sports. I have no interest in sports at all (though, I do try to exercise -- walk, lift weights). I followed baseball as a kid (collected cards), played little league, and attempted to play basketball -- but it just wasn't in me. What really interested me was that other people liked these things, and it was good for social engagement. I'm just missing certain genes that make me find sports intrinsically appealing.
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#16
Yuli Ban

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Whoops, I probably shouldn't have added all that extra stuff since I didn't expect a reply so soon. 

I considered that social aspect to it, but I realize that this is just going to accelerate what was already beginning to happen going as far back as the earliest days of cable. 

Think about it: back in the 1950s and 1960s, you could probably get fifty million viewers per episode for I Love Lucy. Not because I Love Lucy was such a spectacular show but because that's all people had available to them. There were only three channels or so to watch. When cable and satellite television came about and the number of channels exploded from three to an astounding twenty, there were probably some people who were concerned as to whether television was going to move into a more niche direction and people would be more disconnected from each other. And it is roughly true: nowhere near as many people watched Friends or Boy Meets World as those who watched I Dream of Jeannie or The Dick Van Dyke Show since our attention was split more ways. This also happened with radio and music— in the mainstream at least, you could find cliques based off what was on MTV, and then when file sharing came about, this became a bit more fragmented. TV kept growing until we had hundreds of channels, too much to keep up with. Already last decade or even in the '90s, you could miss out on some major pop cultural events if you didn't watch certain channels. I'm not the type of person who'd have watched the last episode of Seinfeld when it first aired, for example, and I completely missed South Park when it was at its biggest. Likewise, a lot of people today are probably confused about the sudden surge in references to Black Mirror and Stranger Things and would have had no idea that shows like Rick & Morty existed if not for memes. I've all but ignored Game of Thrones because that setting didn't interest me for the longest time and by the time I did become a fan of it, the show was already on air for years and I decided to wait it out. Likewise, I make references to Kung Fury and tons of people have no idea what I'm talking about.

 

This is just natural. 

 

It's going to get much starker the further into the future we go and entertainment becomes more and more niche. The aforementioned Kung Fury probably wouldn't appeal to anyone outside of a very niche group and would never have gotten on TV. Various webseries of animated shorts wouldn't work at all if they had to be upscaled to 11-minute episodes, with two episodes per block, with studio demands for entire seasons worth of material from concepts that are maybe only good for a collective 20 minutes without being heavily watered down (which is how long they are all together).

 

Come next decade and especially the one after with the rise of media synthesis on a larger scale, this might get even worse (better?) because then even streaming services might not be able to compete. Why watch an hour of someone else's ideas when I could just watch ten hours of my own, perfectly curated to match my desires? Well it could be just to get new ideas. And at that point, we will have reached a sort of entertainment singularity where two people who live in the same house and have the same interests might not have any common cultural reference points besides tropes and archetypes.


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#17
Dead Redshirt

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One could say that this has already been long the case in Canada. We don't have the output needed to compete against the American entertainment juggernauts. The majority of our entertainment is American. Oh, the odd show here and there will be sold internationally. In terms of movies, most of that output is TV movies and very few theatrical movies, those sometimes even in cooperation with the pay networks where these movies end up after stints in the theatres, preventing them from going to Netflix.  A recent trend is also Canadian produced movies sold to streaming services such as Netflix. Regionally, we've become a hotbed for those with many being produced for Hallmark.


My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton - 1950 - 2011

#18
tomasth

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media synthesis indeed.

 

I looked at Nvidia realistic image synthesis , and thought of personalized movie synthesis. Predicting the exact precise content (not even genre of tropes) at the exact time , to make.

 

I used to watch so many shows and movies , but today i am too picky to find anything ; so my common cultural reference points dwindle to old ones. (i experienced all the changes Yuli Ban mentioned , i even knew how to program a VCR timer)

 

The experience of theater is different then movies and a tv shows , so its possible the direct sensory stories medium , will change (not just being 3D in VR).


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#19
Dead Redshirt

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Dunno, but I feel that countries that are already having a hard enough time as is, will continue to go the cheapest route when it comes to medium in terms of delivery method. Currently that seems to be streaming. To use 3D TV as an example, it didn't even have a chance in Canada. As far as I know, no 3D productions were ever produced in or for Canada, and broadcasting it was so cost-prohibitive that the one TV channel devoted to didn't last more than a year or two at most. It then becomes a question being able to supply that content either by buying or producing, which is often a matter of survival.

 

The downside of streaming is what I'd call the blackhole effect. Seeing that it's much cheaper, some TV shows produced for specific networks are often broadcast once or twice and uploaded to the network's website. Their focus and subject will tend to be narrow for a specific market segment, and as such will almost never garner are chatter or popularity to warrant getting DVD releases, and as such as more subject to be forgotten in short order with only passing mentions on Wikipedia. Two such locally produced TV series are falling into this effect. They got their government money to get produced, got about 3-4 seasons and some say they should have been seen more, but don't really have all that much of a budget to get them noticed more.

 

The other downside of Streaming is one of eligibility. Already, we've seen Cannes ban Netflix, which caused quite a bit of controversy. So, question is, what happens when it's a movie your country has produced that Netflix bought as an exclusive that it ends up tauting as one of its high-profile movies that in the end can't get publicity because of a ban? That's gotta suck for the country in question who've gone all through that effort to make the movie. If this were to happen to a Canada, it would be devastating when it already has an uphill battle.

 

Edit: Well, this article is timely and quite interesting:

https://www.cbc.ca/n...alogy-1.5000657

 

Also this one about what constitutes Canadian Content and why a company like Netflix should be producing more of it:

https://www.cbc.ca/n...-crtc-1.4997568


My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton - 1950 - 2011

#20
Nick1984

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I personally could talk to a much greater spectrum of humanity if I only liked sports. I have no interest in sports at all (though, I do try to exercise -- walk, lift weights). I followed baseball as a kid (collected cards), played little league, and attempted to play basketball -- but it just wasn't in me. What really interested me was that other people liked these things, and it was good for social engagement. I'm just missing certain genes that make me find sports intrinsically appealing.


When I think about it that way, it seems that streaming has actually INCREASED diversity, not (as my thread titles suggests) killed it.

Looking back to historic viewing figures (in the UK at least) for most of the first decades, most of the population would spend evening watching the same awful soaps (Coronation Street and EastEnders).

Now there's a ridiculous amount of choice on Netflix, for example there's a whole selection of anime series, a genre that was almost impossible to come by in the UK in the 90s.

Sci-fi is also more popular than ever, it'll be interesting to see if more subcultures emerge out of greater entertainment choices.
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