Graphic by Emma Boersma

STREAM ON: From original series to Spanish TV, Netflix (almost) has it all

Sophomore Sydney Turner prefers Hulu over Netflix for one reason: Netflix just can’t keep up.

“Netflix doesn’t have ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians,’ and Hulu does,” Turner said.

However, Turner doesn’t actually need to choose just one since she, like most students, uses multiple services.

Of 97 students polled on Dec. 11, 86.5 percent use a streaming service to watch TV and movies; 53.5 percent of them use more than one service.

Netflix is the most popular service, used by 94 percent of students who use a streaming service. Amazon Prime Video, Netflix’s closest contender, is streamed by 34 percent; only 27.3 percent said they use Hulu, and 16.6 percent said they stream via another service.

Of the students who said they stream via only one platform, all but two opted for Netflix.

Despite Netflix’s popularity, it costs the same as Hulu, starting at $7.99 a month. Amazon Prime Video starts at $4.99 per month, but a subscription to Amazon Prime, necessary to use Prime Video, costs $129 per year.

Junior Michelle Whitney uses only Netflix but said if she could choose, Hulu would be next on her list.

“There is a show, ‘The Last Man on Earth,’ that’s really funny, and I’ve seen it only through somebody who has Hulu,” Whitney said.

“Different streaming services have different content, and the variety would be great if I could view all of them. But I have only Netflix since it’s the only (service) my dad is paying for.”

Most students — 86.9 percent — use streaming services paid by their parents; 8.3 percent pay for their own accounts, and 5.9 percent use a friend’s account.

For sophomore Erin Wilson, that “friend” is her half-brother’s mom’s ex-husband.

“I don’t know if he knows (my family uses) it,” Wilson said. “He knows some people use it, but I don’t think he knows how many people do.”

She said he gave his password to a few people who then passed the information to others. Wilson received it from her half-brother.

She said her half-brother’s mom’s ex-husband doesn’t use the account much, so she encounters few problems.

“Sometimes he won’t pay for it (on time), and then (my family) can’t watch it, which is annoying,” Wilson said.

Sophomore Joanne Tsai doesn’t have that problem since she pays for her own Netflix account.

Tsai said she started using Netflix only after coming to the U.S. from Asia, where she has lived in China and Taiwan.

While Netflix is available in Taiwan, Tsai said people don’t use it as often as they do in the United States.

“Some shows they offer here are not offered in Taiwan,” Tsai explained.

Netflix is blocked in China, and Tsai said she didn’t know a lot about Netflix before coming to the U.S.

“My parents don’t use Netflix, so I pay for my own account,” Tsai said.

Tsai also uses Amazon Prime Video but said the shows on Netflix are better.

Senior Grace Naify also pays for her own account — but it’s not Netflix.

Naify paid for a premium account on DramaFever, a Korean Drama streaming service that shut down in October. According to Variety, this was due to the increase of licensing costs for U.S. distribution of K-dramas.

“They also had some Japanese shows, but not anime,” Naify said.

“It was mostly all dramas. They had a lot of Chinese stuff too.”

Now Naify uses Viki, which she said has many of the same shows DramaFever did.

“Before I deleted DramaFever, I looked at my watchlist, and I wrote down all the shows that I had yet to watch on there and tried to find them on Viki,” Naify said.

“Most of them came up. What sucks is DramaFever had exclusive shows solely for that company. There (were) a couple of those that I never got to watch, and I regret it.”

Although Naify said she likes original content, she has watched only one such movie on Netflix.

“I watched ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ — the one everyone saw,” Nafiy said. “I just started getting into Netflix the past year.”

Naify also uses Hulu but says she uses Viki the most.

“I mostly watch shows on Netflix by myself, like all my Spanish TV shows,” Naify said. “But on Viki I have a couple series that I watch with my friends. I’ll go to (senior) Kyra (LaFitte’s) house, and we’ll pick a show to watch off Viki and watch it only when we hang out.”

Naify said she used to use Crunchyroll, a free streaming service for anime, but rarely does anymore.

But senior Michaela Chen still does.

Although Crunchyroll has a $6.95-per-month premium feature, Chen uses the free version, which includes ads and less content.

“It’s pretty popular,” Chen said. “It features a lot of different anime shows, so it’s a good service to use.”

Chen also has Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Of the three services, she said she uses Netflix the most.

“Amazon Prime just doesn’t have as many of the shows that I would prefer to watch,” Chen said. “I honestly haven’t used Amazon Prime in a very long time. Netflix has ‘The Office,’ which I’ve been watching lately, and a few anime that I like to watch as well. Netflix has more shows that are better targeted towards me.”

One anime Chen watches is the Netflix original, “Violet Evergarden.”

“It’s really well-drawn,” Chen said.

However, not everyone likes Netflix originals.

“Netflix original shows are actually kind of terrible,” Turner said. “Oh, they’re so bad! ‘Insatiable’ is horrible. What is the plot? And ‘The Kissing Booth’ was so bad.

“‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ was cute. ‘Stranger Things’ is really good. That’s my only exception.”

Wilson had a similar sentiment.

“Sometimes Netflix originals are good,” she said. “Other times they’re annoying or corny. Usually they’re either really good or really bad.”

Sophomore Brian Chow disagreed.

When he used his brother’s Netflix account, Chow watched mostly original shows, such as “Stranger Things” and “The Crown,” which he said he loved.

He doesn’t use a streaming service anymore, though.

“I think (my brother) canceled his account — that was sad,” Chow said.

But Netflix isn’t the only service that produces original content.

Senior Josh Friedman uses Amazon Prime Video for “Man in the High Castle” and “The Grand Tour” and Hulu for “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“If those two shows weren’t on (Amazon Prime Video), I wouldn’t use it,” Friedman said. “And there is nothing else on Hulu worth watching for me.”

Because he watches only these three shows on other services, Friedman prefers Netflix.

“It has more shows that I watch regularly,” Friedman said. “There’s ‘The Office,’ ‘Parks and Recreation,’ ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and a whole bunch of other shows.”

Friedman said he also watches Netflix originals.

“I just finished ‘American Vandal,’ and it’s really, really funny,” he said.

“I also like all their stand-up stuff they do with Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and all the great comics they have on there.”

Junior Maddie Woo said she also likes Chappelle’s Netflix comedy specials, as well as Tom Segura’s.

“But sometimes the comedy shows just have weird comedians,” Woo said.

Friedman added that although he watches more TV shows on the Netflix app, he still watches movies sent to his family twice a week through Netflix’s DVD delivery service.

“Sometimes they are just random movies we didn’t know were put on our list at all,” he said.

“Apparently there are very few people in the nation who still use that,” Friedman said. “I’m strange in that I’m one of the three people that still use it.”

But 10 years ago, Netflix was known for its DVDs; it didn’t begin streaming until 2007.

Senior Luca Procida, who was accepted to New York University’s Tisch School of Arts, commented on the growth Netflix has achieved, saying the company is “jumping into the awards circuit” with the original movie “Roma,” a period piece centered upon the life of an indigenous housekeeper in the Mexican neighborhood Roma.

“It’ll most likely win an Oscar for Best Foreign Feature,” Procida said. “If a Netflix film was at the Oscars 10 years ago, everyone would say, ‘What? That’s the DVD shipping company.’”

However, Procida said he doesn’t think Netflix originals will reach the level of Hollywood cinema that has been developing since the 1920s.

“In terms of purely creative content, it is of the same caliber of Hollywood,” Procida said. “But cinematically, it’s not. Netflix can’t afford (Marvel’s) ‘Infinity War’ levels of visual effects and CGI, so Netflix puts a lot of money into prosthetics and practical effects like makeup or costuming.”

Despite this, Procida said that online streaming is the “ next big thing.”

“Online streaming is the public’s most easily accessible entertainment, and Netflix has been at the forefront for the past five years,” Procida said. “Netflix today is the best at what they do since they have the most experience.

“Other streaming services have to go through trials and tribulations to figure out what will be successful.”

Yet, some don’t use Netflix at all.

Sophomore Keshav Anand has access to his family’s Netflix account but said his “go-to site” is YouTube for short, 10-minute videos.

“I usually don’t watch movies because of schoolwork, and Netflix has mostly 40-minute shows,” Anand said.

When he does feel like watching a longer show, such as “Arrow,” Anand typically uses the CW Television Network website.

“After (an episode) airs, it is usually online the day after,” Anand said. “It’s easier to watch there; you don’t have to wait for it to come onto Netflix.”

Like Anand, junior Anu Krishnan frequently uses YouTube because she doesn’t have cable or a streaming service.

Krishnan said that although not being able to watch TV shows might benefit her studies, she still gets preoccupied with other tasks.

“I can still get distracted by reading books, and I can still binge on YouTube,” Krishnan said.

When hearing people discuss TV shows, Krishnan said she usually can understand the story—but not always.

“When people were talking about ‘Stranger Things,’ I didn’t really know what it was, so I just went along with it,” Krishnan said.

—By Sarina Rye

Originally published in the Jan. 15 edition of the Octagon.

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