Netflix Plans to Win Streaming Wars By Making TV a Chore

With Disney+ set to launch on November 12, Apple TV+ already pumping out original content with multiple A-listers, and HBO Max prepping for landing, Netflix is bracing for some steep competition. For quite some time, Netflix had cornered the streaming market, releasing beloved sitcoms from yesteryear and original content in tandem; yet, it would only be a matter of time until the rest of the industry caught on. 

Netflix | Chesnot/Getty Images

While Netflix will presumably remain one of the most popular streaming outlets, as it continues to produce some of the most critically acclaimed TV shows and movies, that doesn’t mean the streaming giant plans to sit back and watch from afar as others join the ring. Assuming invincibility is never wise. 

Remember what happened when Blockbuster thought Netflix never stood a chance against them? Netflix will not become the next Blockbuster without a fight. However, it seems that Netflix’s next bid in the streaming wars may alter the entire way we approach television. 

Netflix’s new feature comes with a price 

Netflix recently released a feature — for a trial period — on cellular devices only. The feature allows you to stream content at 1.5x speed. While filmmakers and various cinematic giants spoke out against the decision from an artistic point of view — arguing that timing is an essential part of the creative process, integral to conveying desired sentiments and forging an intended effect — art is not the only sacrifice being made here. 

Allowing viewers to speed up a program takes binging to the next level. Want to catch up on Stranger Things? Did you fall behind all of your friends? Don’t have enough time to catch up on four episodes before you all meet up tomorrow night; how about watch the episode at 1.5x the speed?  

With so much content to choose from — and so much of human conversation resorting back to film and television — watching TV at 1.5x the speed allows viewers to accomplish the insurmountable task known as “catching up.” 

The dread tied to starting a new show when it’s been on for years is real. People choose to skip out on cultural phenomenons because they can’t feasibly ever become a part of the current conversation. 

No one wants to start Orange Is the New Black now because the discussion is going to end too soon. It’s too late. However, what if we could view it faster? What if we could play catch-up in nearly half the time? This way, we can enjoy the most important part of watching TV: the social element. Right?

TV has always been about connecting to one another, reflecting humanity, catalyzing a conversation, you get the idea. But, at 1.5x the speed, can you appreciate what you’re watching to enjoy the conversation? Or, are you rushing to the finish, unaware of the thematic undertones and narrative devices spilling forth from the tiniest instances? For, at 1.5x speed, you likely missed the “big, subtle” moment; though that sounds like an oxymoron, these moments are quite frequent in film. 

Does speeding up TV strip away the experience? Are you watching to enjoy, or are you watching to finish? If the latter, why watch? Watching TV was never meant to be a task you must complete; it’s supposed to be an art you appreciate. It seems that Netflix plans to win the streaming wars by aligning TV viewing with cleaning the dishes, as Today Explained comments. Since you have to do your chores, will you just have to watch Netflix over Amazon? What’s the plan here?