Over the last two decades, streaming services have been on a rapid incline. Starting with Amazon Prime and Netflix and now with Disney+ and Paramount+ and everything in between, one distinct feature across these services is the mass amounts of content from previous years. Shows from the childhoods of teens and adults alike are now accessible to be rediscovered and re-enjoyed, drawing in larger audiences to purchase the service. This change in media consumption has affected not only the people consuming it, but the entertainment industry as a whole.
Something occurring massively in recent years has been the mass upload of popular kids shows to services. Netflix previously had a large selection of Disney Channel programs, but the birth of Disney+ in 2019 brought them all to the new platform. The want to relive these beloved childhood memories added yet another subscription service to people’s monthly payments, a good business model that has proved very successful. So successful, in fact, that the new Paramount+ launch this year has gone down a similar path. With all Nickelodeon shows streaming, the amount people are willing to spend for nostalgia is ever expanding.
However, the first step in this change was the introduction of older shows onto streaming platforms. For example, shows such as Friends, Seinfeld, That 70s Show, Golden Girls, and countless others are all available across the web. This first brought adults to the sites, wanting to relive their favorite shows from their pasts. With these new paying customers, it then allowed children to discover and love shows they never would have had access to otherwise. This doesn’t just apply to shows loved by Generation X or older, but also for Millenials. Shows such as Glee, The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Gossip Girl have all found a resurgence among young kids and teens in recent years.
These two aspects combined have come to create a new type of media on these platforms. With the popularity of these old shows, many of the companies have moved to create reboots to capitalize more on this search for nostalgia. On Disney+, for example, High School Musical the Musical the Series has become a massive hit. New viewers are intrigued by the plot, while older audiences return to relive what they love about the original High School Musical. Paramount+ has announced their upcoming iCarly reboot, showing this trend is increasing quickly. It’s only a matter of time until more and more shows from the past have their second life.
A second new format of media on these platforms has been delivered by the many Disney+ shows. Disney has started releasing shows for the highly regarded Star Wars and Marvel franchises, giving the same content a typical feature film would, but released in weekly installments. These shows include The Mandalorian, Wandavision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. This new style of television brings in movie viewers who wouldn’t necessarily buy the service otherwise, but don’t want to miss the newest developments of the film series they love. Again, this business model is proving very effective, especially over the pandemic where people can’t go out to see these genre of movies in theatres.
The rise of streaming platforms had brought about a definite change in how media is consumed and produced. Past television being at the center of this evolution has allowed for these service’s business models to be heavily focused on playing to the nostalgia of viewers. This isn’t a bad thing, but recognizing how companies shift to adapt to new cultures is a fascinating trend to track.