As fall TV season begins, Netflix, online streaming takes over

By Tom Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA — For a self-employed owner of a martial arts gym, a café and a sex-toy shop, finding time to watch TV doesn’t come easy.

“I don’t watch TV at all,” Angel Nieves said Thursday in Northern Liberties. “I watch Netflix and I’ll watch Showtime and all the series kind of stuff.

“So I think for me, why I don’t watch TV is because of the time of it,” Nieves, a former New Yorker who now calls Philadelphia home, said. “I like all the On-demand features that I find on cable channels so I just find myself drawn to that kind of stuff.”

Thirty-three TV shows will debut this fall, including NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show,” marking Michael J. Fox’s first regular return to TV in 11 years, CBS’ “The Crazy Ones,” starring Robin Williams, and Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow.”

CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” enters its ninth and final season, and HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” wraps up the story of Kenny Powers in its fourth season.

“The one thing that I started watching is ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and the one about the ‘80’s, ‘The Goldbergs,’” Ray Nunez, an account executive who lives in the city’s Somerton section, said. “It’s a new show, but it brings me back to my time so those are the two main shows that I’m watching that are on ABC.”

With another fall season beginning, more Americans are migrating online. In September, Nielsen released a study that says 38 percent of Americans use Netflix, 18 percent use Hulu, and 13 percent use Amazon Prime Instant Video.

“My time is so constraint that when I have time to watch TV,” Nunez, who primarily uses Netflix for his TV viewing, said, “I can’t schedule myself according to the programs. I gotta schedule the programs according to my schedule.”

According to its website, Netflix has more than 37 million subscribers. Another online streaming website, Hulu, says its paid service, Hulu Plus, has over four million subscribers. Other services include HBO Go, YouTube and iTunes.

With advancing technology and the ease of Netflix and other streaming services, Nunez believes that in five-to-10 years, TV will be “a little more obsolete than even today.”

“If today you’re seeing it kinda dwindling away,” he said. “I’ll say in five-10 years from now with technology and with all that’s going on, people are on the go probably watching with their technology like fast phones or what have you.”

Mark Matero, a sales manager at T-Mobile, still watches network TV shows, though “mostly DVR.” The Center City resident doesn’t have a Netflix account, but does see why more people are navigating toward online streaming.

“It’s cheaper than cable,” Matero said. “Comcast is ridiculous. It’s, for me, $120 a month and that’s just basic cable with no pay channels. [It’s] definitely cheaper for $8 and it’s unlimited.”

With more original series being produced by Netflix such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” Matero doesn’t believe the future of TV will be online, but that online streaming and TV will have some kind of relationship.

“I think it’s something that’s going to be in combination with TV,” Matero said.

“You look at shows like ‘House of Cards’ that’s winning Emmys and getting nominated, that’s completely Netflix. As long as they’re doing shows like that, I think there’s going to be a relationship between Netflix and television,” he said.

Like Matero, Nieves doesn’t see TV ever going away, though he wants TV to go more toward online and mobile applications.

“Not like I’m a big mobile guy,” he said, “but I see myself in a few years being able to take my bag, roll a flat-screen TV system out and just being able to watch with the [content] floating in the air.”

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