Is Streaming the New Way Teens Watch TV?

Connor French, Staff writer

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As of the end of 2018, Netflix has released an estimated 1,500 hours, or 90,000 minutes of original content, and people are definitely watching! Popular Netflix originals such as Sex Education and The Society were renewed only a month after they aired. This leaves popular television shows like The Big Bang Theory and Criminal Minds (just renewed for their final seasons) on the chopping block as they continue to lose viewers.

Why are Netflix originals becoming so popular? They tend to be released all at once, usually leaving over a year’s wait for the next season, and yet viewers are consistently tuned in. Is it because nothing’s off limits on the streaming site, or the impressive docuseries that have captured everyone’s attention?

Thirteen Reasons Why became the talk of the town when it was released on Netflix in March of 2018. While many viewers criticized it for the triggering way it portrayed its storylines, there’s no denying the millions of viewers it garnered. Many teens are looking for content they can relate to, and a high school drama that tackles suicide, sexual assault, and bullying is just that. Sex Education is yet another show that proves that relatability is something teens are looking for in a television show. It provides honest conversations that shows on regular cable networks can’t have.

It’s not only teen dramas with high views and ratings; the sci-fi genre seems to have made a comeback through Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and The OA. For many, these shows bring nostalgia. But for those who weren’t born in the eighties, when Stranger Things was set, perhaps it’s the sense of adventure and mystery that intrigues teenagers and young adults.

However, regular TV programming isn’t completely dead. Fan favorites like Grey’s Anatomy and Law and Order: SVU continue to be renewed into their sixteenth and twentieth seasons, respectively. But, one must wonder if this sustaining popularity is due to these shows being featured on streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. Being able to tune in and binge-watch the show from the beginning on a streaming site serves to build a fandom.

TV was once revolutionary and viewers rejoiced in having access to breaking news or their favorite programs. Today, however, it seems like more and more households are getting rid of their regular TV and cable to exclusively stream Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.