How streaming services have changed our lives

Netflix and thrill: 
How streaming services have changed our lives

Photo: Getty Images

The shows you want, whenever you want, and not a single advert to skip through. Thanks to streaming services, the golden age of television is right now

At first, the viewing public were skeptical; today, nobody can live without their favourite streaming service. Amazon Prime, Netflix and others have left traditional broadcast channels trailing in their wake and changed the lives of a legion of 21st century viewing fans. Here’s how.

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Binge-watching

The biggest advantage of the new streaming portals: you can watch your favourite series whenever you want and – thanks to 4G and offline viewing modes – wherever you want. Instead of having to set a video or hard disk recorder if you were out at the time of a programme’s broadcast, these days you can switch on the TV, laptop or tablet at any time of the day and pick up exactly where you left off.

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With many series being uploaded in their entirety, the agonising week’s wait to find out what happened after a cliffhanger is no more. If you want to roll straight on into the next episode, just sit back and let it happen.

Advert free

There’s nothing worse than reaching the point of high drama in a film or series, only for the action to be interrupted by a series of adverts for washing up liquid and underarm deodorant. When you stream your shows, the risk of having the atmosphere ruined is completely eliminated. Likewise, there’s no longer any need to wait for a commercial break to nip to the loo or grab a snack – now all you need to do is press pause.

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The quality of shows is higher than ever

On traditional television, many shows have to make do with fewer episodes, due to a channel’s tighter programming schedule. Their plots are therefore streamlined, and certain storylines eliminated as the writers are forced to focus on the essential action and create continuous tension.

Successful streaming services have already produced their own hit series and are even rivalling the more creative cable TV channels like HBO and Showtime. Thanks to the autonomy granted by their business models, Amazon and Netflix have the freedom to experiment with the narrative structures of their shows - and it’s paying dividends, with marquee hits like House of Cards and Transparent picking up big wins at the Emmy and Golden Globes award ceremonies. It’s having a positive effect on the broadcast networks too, as the competition forces them to raise the standard of their own output.

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Netflix and chill – a legitimate excuse

In the past, even if you had a perfectly good reason for missing a social occasion, the risk of offending your friends was still an ever-present. But because of the status and reputation that companies like Netflix have achieved, it’s now quite legitimate to say you’re planning an evening on the sofa watching the latest season of Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things instead. 

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Learn new language skills

The joy of streaming services like Netflix is not only to be found in its English-language content, of course. Bilingual shows like Pablo Escobar drama Narcos, and world cinema hits like City of God, The Lives of Others and The Grandmaster mean that you can improve your Spanish, Portuguese, German and Mandarin from the comfort of your living room.

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Icebreaker at parties

You’re going to a party and want to break the ice, but chat-up lines aren‘t your thing? Then talk to the other guests about your favourite streaming series. The odds that someone else in attendance is a fellow fan are actually rather good. And if you find your soulmate, the rest of the evening could be a match made in TV heaven.

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Relationship catalyst

If you’re looking to make things a bit more serious, watching a show together can accelerate a relationship quickly. Sure, walks in the country or romantic dinners still have the edge, but sharing a series from beginning to end can quickly become your ‘thing‘ and create a very special intimacy. So plump up the cushions, relax under a blanket and the object of your affection will be relaxing in your arms in no time.

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12 2016 The Red Bulletin

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