My Little Individualized Act of Citizenship

05Sep11

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/12/netflix-price-subscription-plan_n_895779.html

When I first saw this assignment mentioned on OnCourse, I was a little nervous because I never watch, read or really engage with the news at all, unless for a select purpose. Initially, I was just concerned with not being able to come up with anything other than Netflix raising its prices and a general feeling that I was a lackluster communications student for being so out of the loop (has as long been my wont.) However, even just reading the first chapter with the hopes of linking it to the Netflix price change proved interesting and instructive, as I immediately identified with the concept of “individualized acts of citizenship.”  Far from merely assuaging my guilt (yay – I’m not the only person who doesn’t follow the news!) it also reminded me just how much a part of the ever-changing mediated audience I am – and how much I exemplified not only this particular component of the chapter, but the other two that I found relevant to Netflix’s changing business plan as well.

The first chapter in Media Works talked about our constant immersion in technology (even more interesting when considering the also increasing trend of “individualized acts of citizenship” – how can we become increasingly isolated from certain media when we as a society are becoming ever more entrenched with media as a whole?) The reason that Netflix needed to increase their prices in the first place is that streaming video has become increasingly popular. With Blockbuster now offering a streaming service and  Hulu adding a “premiere” component for the more dedicated viewer, the studios that provided Netflix with films and television shows for instant streaming were able to increase the costs for rights to stream this footage; now, Netflix has competition in the instant streaming market. The fact that enough other business are entering the instant streaming market – and to such an extent that Netflix needs to increase their prices in order to stay competitive within that market – signifies how strong the immersive powers of instant streaming are on a media consuming audience.

This correlates with another interesting point made in chapter one: our desire to personalize media and make it function around ourselves.   Instant streaming seems to be a branch of film and television distribution that directly feeds our need to have immediate and constant access to exactly the type of programming we want when we want it. I myself was one of the few people who wasn’t particularly bothered by the Netflix price increase – even though it was a monthly increase of 60% for the service I was using. And why wasn’t I bothered? Because I had decided shortly before the price increase was announced to cancel my cable service, saving myself significantly more each month than the Netflix price increase would cost me. Once more, while reading this chapter I found myself identifying with the text as a media consumer contributing to the changing tide of how we interact with media: why would I pay $50 a month for hundreds of channels, few (if any) actually playing something I’d want to watch, when I could pay $16 a month and have constant and immediate access to exactly what I want, when OI want it, and in whatever quantity I see fit?

This week’s reading has already proved fascinating to me not just as a student of the media but as an avid consumer of media as well. I look forward to learning more about the business I want to enter – and how I operate within that business as a consumer – in the coming weeks…

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