From Chris Meadows via TeleRead:
I just finished watching Jessica Jones via Netflix. It’s the second Netflix/Marvel original series, after Daredevil, and likeDaredevil is available in its 13-episode entirety for binge-watching. And it’s really amazing. It features a compelling storyline and standout performances from its cast (especially David Tennant as the villain, proving that he isn’t letting his Doctor Who fame typecast him). Given that this isn’t a TV blog, I won’t go into it in detail, but suffice it to say that I agree with pretty much every word of this review of it on Forbes, which goes so far as to call it “the best show on TV” in its headline.
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For all that “broadcast” versus “cable” television is becoming an increasingly pointless distinction these days now that almost everybody gets their television either from cable or from Internet rebroadcast services such as Hulu, “broadcast” channels are still regulated differently from “cable or satellite” channels (and, by the same token, Internet subscription services like Netflix) when it comes to the FCC’s decency restrictions.
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TV shows that air on broadcast TV are still subject to puritanical regulations that leave them pretty limited in terms of just how dark they can be. Even Arrow, probably the darkest, angstiest superhero show currently airing on broadcast TV, looks like a sulky teenager acting out by comparison to Jessica Jones.
Cable channels can go significantly darker and grittier—but they are handicapped by cable-industry bundling. To subscribe to any given pay channel, consumers generally have to subscribe to an extensive tier containing a number of channels, including ones they might have no interest in ever watching.
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And that brings me to why Netflix is such a special case. It isn’t subject to expensive bundle deals. Consumers can subscribe to the wide variety of movies and television shows it airs for a single low monthly fee. And that includes original shows, which Netflix is able to make as dark and gritty as it wants. Effectively, Netflix isn’t subject to the puritanical gatekeeper of FCC decency restrictions, but it also isn’t subject to the budgetary gatekeeper of cable-industry bundles. So it’s one of the first major sources of dark, gritty programming that is inexpensively available to the average viewer.
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A similar revolution has been happening in terms of self-publishing versus publisher gatekeepers. After all, the self-publishing industry experienced explosive growth partly on the strength of providing a way for writers to publish works in categories that often draw resistance from traditional gatekeepers—romance, erotica, erotic horror, political fiction, and others. While Amazon has been known to purge certain categories of self-published erotica from time to time, there are still quite a number of stories that could never have been published by a traditional publisher, but which have plenty of fans willing to buy them via Amazon, Smashwords, or other outlets.
For that matter, digital music services have also provided a way for artists to skirt the gatekeepers of recording-industry contracts and radio stations’ limited playlists to put their works out directly for consumers.
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And this leads me to the realization that there are quite a few areas of consumer media interest that have historically been poorly-served by traditional outlets. People are not onlywilling to consume but clearly actively want to consume works that traditional gatekeepers have shut out—be they for raunchiness, violence, esoteric subject matter, more than one of the above, or some other reason altogether. Thus, the reductions in publishing cost and regulation of digital media, including e-books, provide openings not only for self-publishing writers and artists, but for new media outlets like Netflix that don’t fall into the same old categories.
And yet I wonder if we’re truly only seeing the beginning of the sort of expansion of choice that digital media publishing opportunities make possible.
Link to the rest at TeleRead