The Future of TV

Will online streaming services like Netflix soon overtake satellite and cable companies? Photo courtesy of

Will online streaming services like Netflix soon overtake satellite and cable companies? Photo courtesy of

Jace Jenican, Opinions Editor

Since the invention of the television in 1927 and its rise to popularity in the 1950s, TVs have been at the foundation of American entertainment. In recent years, TVs have become thinner, longer, clearer–people seem to be happier with how they are receiving the shows that they invest a little bit of their lives in. But is the way that these shows are distributed about to change dramatically? According to the Netflix website, “Internet TV is replacing linear TV.” But what does this really mean?


Netflix and other video streaming services, like Hulu Plus and Amazon Video, have captured a major part of the television entertainment market. These services charge a fixed monthly rate, like cable companies, but deliver the convenience of being able to watch their unlimited supply of television shows whenever and wherever one desires. Internet streaming can be done on a phone, on a computer, on a smart TV, and there is no schedule determining when each show is to be played (the “linear” aspect of “linear TV”). This freedom is the reason for the popularity of internet TV. Eventually, TV will be solely streamed through internet services, but when this will happens seems to be a mystery. The heads of channels like HBO and Showtime, which already have some sort of internet streaming capabilities, have considered moving completely to the internet. But the main reason no channel has abandoned cable yet is because it is still a popular means of watching TV for many Americans. Internet TV may be the future, but Americans will have to abandon cable and satellite TV for streaming services to be a viable as the sole source of TV entertainment as opposed to a supplement.


Internet streaming services in recent years have not just been in competition with cable companies, but are also proving to be a formidable competitor in the space of original content. Netflix recently released its third season of House of Cards, an intense, political drama that was the first internet-only show to win a Golden Globe. In March, Netflix released an original series known as The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a comedy about a girl who, after being released from a cult she was trapped in for 15 years, moves to New York City, works as a nanny, and moves in with an aspiring actor/singer who takes advantage of her fame as an “Indiana mole woman.” Kimmy Schmidt, produced by Tina Fey, has been met with rave reviews from critics and has been renewed for a second season.  Streaming services have also begun to pick up shows after they were canceled by their original network. Yahoo Screen is now airing the sixth season of Community. Two years ago, Netflix aired season four of Arrested Development which was canceled by Fox in 2006, but the cult TV show was brought back seven years later because of its popularity and there have been indications from Netflix that there may be a season 5.


When asked why she likes online streaming services, Sarah Stumpf (11) says, “there are a lot of series that I never would’ve watched if I wasn’t on Netflix. I was watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and it was really funny because the main character is hilarious, but I would’ve never watched it if it were just on regular TV.” And this is how many people feel. Comedians now have specials that air solely on Netflix to extend their brand to a wider audience and increase their popularity through a new and growing medium of entertainment. Online streaming services are growing and will eventually overtake the satellite and cable companies that dominate the TV market.