How Netflix changed the way we have sex, find love and live

Netflix turned 25 on August 29, reminding us not only how much the company has changed since 1997, but also how much it has changed. U.S. From how we spend our free time to what we talk about to… yes, how we have sex.

If you have any doubts about the profound impact Netflix has had on culture and commerce, let’s dispel those doubts with some numbers. First, consider the sheer volume of Netflix subscribers: 220.7 million worldwide. (That is after the record loss of subscribers in the second quarter of 2022). Second is Netflix’s 2021 revenue: $29.7 billion.

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And third, $2.3 million. That’s what singer Kate Bush earned in new royalties, as of early July 2022, for her 37-year-old song “Running Up That Hill,” following her prominence on Netflix. Strange things Season 4. That’s right, a song from 1985 earned its artist over $2 million, only this yearfrom the renewed interest that followed its use in Netflix’s most-watched English-language series of all time.

If that’s not enough to convince you that Netflix isn’t just a streaming platform, but a driver of cultural trends, then relax… and read on.

How it started vs. How’s it going

Netflix DVD by mail

Founded in August 1997, Netflix predates the modern concept of streaming. In an era of dial-up connections, it initially allowed subscribers to use an online queue to rent DVDs (and, later, Blu-ray Discs and video games), delivered by mail. Years before the company, and other streaming giants, squeezed the life out of cable TV, Netflix sounded the death knell of a once-cherished institution: the neighborhood video rental store.

It’s probably a bit of a coincidence that video giant Blockbuster, with more than 9,000 store locations at its peak, filed for bankruptcy just over a decade after Netflix’s arrival.

By making it easier for people to choose what to watch and when to watch it, Netflix’s DVD-by-mail model helped condition consumers. They learned to be more selective and have more control over their media experience. Why go to the video store and pay several dollars to rent a movie for 48 or 72 hours? With Netflix, you can select titles on the web, have them delivered to your door, and keep them for as long as you like, all for one monthly fee. (Netflix yet offers a DVD-only plan, by the way).

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Netflix conditioned subscribers from the beginning to accept the idea of ​​recurring charges. It didn’t matter how many DVDs he ordered each month: five, one, or none. You still paid. Today, the system is the same: you can stream Netflix every day, or not use it all month, but you still pay the same rate. What has changed dramatically is that Netflix is ​​no longer just a distributor; is a powerhouse of original productions.

Of Stranger Things to Tiger King, Netflix changed ‘must-see TV’

Stranger Things Season 4
Stranger Things Season 4

In 1980, viewers couldn’t wait to find out “Who Shot JR?” on the cliffhanger of season 3 of the primetime soap opera dallas. An estimated 350 million people tuned in eight months later to discover the answer. (Spoiler alert: It was Kristin Shepherd, JR Ewing’s sister-in-law and ex-lover.)

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Back then, some TV shows were really events that you couldn’t stop watching. To skip a crucial episode would be to miss out on part of the cultural fabric. Viewers tuned in to the season, the series, the finales and the big reveals to enjoy the show, but also to be part of the conversation the next day. With its immense success, Netflix has reinvented the concept of “must see” viewing.

What’s different today is that when Netflix goes down, let’s say, Strange things Season 4 sees viewers routinely binge multiple episodes, or the entire season, in one sitting. The power of Netflix can also be seen in shows like its true crime series. tiger kingwhich was not an immediate success, but instead built an audience through word of mouth on social media.

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However, it is not just a question of audience numbers. It’s how they translate into a larger conversation and cultural influence.

The revival of Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill”, linked to Strange things, is a notable example. But so is the significant increase in interest in big cats, following the launch of tiger king. Audience intelligence platform Pulsar found that even much less popular Netflix titles, like the 2020 docudrama the societal dilemmacan shape the conversation on social media.

Netflix and Chill’ enter the lexicon

Netflix and chill photo by Atul Vinayak on Unsplash
Photo by Atul Vinayak on Unsplash

Every generation has its jargon for sex, and Netflix has become inextricably intertwined with the subtle shorthand of our day. “Netflix and chill,” a euphemism for sexual activity (primarily among teens), began circulating in 2014. A parent might be told, “Let’s go watch Netflix and chill,” allowing a teen to dress up. what it was Really going on. Or a potential lover could be asked if he wanted to “Netflix and chill,” which dismissed the pretense and set the intention early on.

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For the record, it was always a slightly tongue-in-cheek expression, meant to be tongue-in-cheek and subtle. But it became part of the language, anyway.

However, Netflix’s influence extends beyond mere sexual jargon. The streaming service has also altered the very concept of “date night.” It was once a traditional ritual to go outside, to dinner and maybe to the movies. Now, though, it’s just a matter of setting aside time to order delivery and cozy up on the couch together. No need to dress up, make a reservation, or hire a babysitter. Y definitely no trip to the video rental store.

It’s the world of Netflix now. We just live in it and enjoy it.


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