Netflix's Reconfiguration Of Flow

Decent Essays
In 2007, Netflix, an online video rental service founded in the late 1990s, changed courses and began to offer a video on demand streaming service that, though not the first of its kind, profoundly altered the way in which viewers watch and categorize televisual texts in the Post-Network Era of streaming and individualization of television viewing. This influence warrants a reconfiguration of Raymond Williams’ classic theory of flow as well as of Ethan Thompson’s more recent theory, which makes necessary advances by correctly accounting for a shift toward catering to audience tastes, but fails to address the particularities of the streaming platform. This essay argues that what I call “streaming flow”, still encourages continual viewing, but…show more content…
Netflix has engendered a generic recategorization of texts into previously established genres, as well as into newly established generic categories meant to organize these diverse texts in new and very specific adjective based genres, such as political dramas or spiritual documentaries,which combine descriptive and generic words meant to capture viewers. This generic specificity also accounts for the fact that texts are often cross-listed across multiple of these traditional and contemporary genres. Additionally, texts are categorized on each user’s homepage according to generic categories generated by the user’s profile and viewing history, with categories like, “you might also like this” and “because you watched…”. In accordance with Mittell’s genre theory, which states that genre is a cultural practice situated in larger cultural hierarchies and power relations and accounts for specific attributes of the medium, Netflix’s unique genre categories account for the particular attributes of the medium, but also, significantly, of the new digital platform as well. In making these arguments, I analyze the functions of the platform which create “streaming flow”, its algorithm, format, and generic categorization, as well as texts such as Arrested Development (2003-) and Stranger Things (2016-), that comprise streaming flow and which are generically categorized by
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