Streaming: It's a genre now?

This New York Times article argues that streaming media, TV in particular, is not just a medium, but a format as well. Poniewozik makes a solid case for his argument that streaming has introduced something entirely new to a medium that hasn't changed much in the last 80 or so years. The immediate release of an entire season for binge consumption certainly is new. Scholars are debating the merits of this new approach at this very moment. Do you have enough time to process a densely-packed hour of television if you start another episode 20 second later? The weekly format may be irritating but it did built in time for contemplation. TV has also gotten smarter (thank you, HBO) which should be coupled with even more time and space for analysis.

The word "genre" occupies a very specific place in film and media studies. For film its often a retroactive term utilized to examine trends and thematically significant moments within specific cultural and historical contexts. Genres are specific ways to package ideas that best expresses the content which always has social and cultural significance. With this discipline-specific definition in mind, is streaming a "genre?" I'm not convinced that it is. However, I do think Poniewozik has a point in regards to streaming's foundational impact. Existing genres may in fact transform in anticipation of a new viewing context. Do we need epic cliff hangers if we can just sit back and wait for the next episode to load, rather than holding onto that narrative question for a week? Poniewozik anticipates this by asking content producers to step up their game: "streaming needs to learn to use its supersized format better, not fight against it."

Read Poniewoziks' NY Times article by clicking here.