Friday, December 17, 2010

Ask a Millennial Professor Friday! - The Future of Netflix


Good morning! A few years ago, I started a feature on my blog titled, "Ask a Millennial Friday". After a few weeks of the feature, my teaching schedule became VERY busy and I received less questions via e-mail.

However, for the past two weeks, I've received A LOT of questions via e-mail. Here's this week's question:

My name is [student's name] and I am an [name of university] journalism student working on my final paper for my Inquiry class. I am writing about the impact of Netflix on DVD rentals and the company's aim to push itself more into the instant streaming realm, alongside the free sites and various TV network sites. I stumbled upon your blog and saw your post about possibly using Netflix in the classroom, and would love to take a moment of your time to discuss your opinion about where Netflix is headed, socially, and what you think we as consumers should expect to see with online streaming in the next few years. I would greatly appreciate any moments you may have, be it over email or on the phone, and I'd like to emphasize that this paper I'm writing is intended only for my professor's eyes. 

My response - Personally, I feel that Netflix is one of the most ingenious products and/or services available to the general public. As a Netflix subscriber, I LOVE the service for my personal use. I watch TV shows and movies through the service and then I make a list on my Google Docs to rent from the library (or to purchase for my classroom). Although I think they would be great additions to my classroom, I am quite afraid of showing Netflix movies (or shows) in my classroom because of copyright infringement, but I do not mind showing TV shows (Undercover Boss on CBS) via steaming websites.

I think this industry will continue to grow and flourish for personal and professional use. I think public and community libraries will definitely jump on the streaming video bandwagon, because it would increase their services (and products) without having to consume addition library storage or checkout space. This is a huge concern for community libraries. 

Professors can also benefit from streaming videos in their classroom. My classrooms are located in a different building from my office and it is very inconvenient to leave resources (i.e. - DVDs) in your office across campus. In addition, the students would be exposed to foreign and independent films that they would not normally watch at home nor would they have access to these films in their community.

I have over 250 movies in my instant queue and most of them are British films and independent movies. If I did not have a Netflix account, I would drive to 50 miles to the metropolitan library to view the films before showing them to my students in class.

Netflix will benefit from creating university and community library accounts for their company. Libraries other similiar types of organizations can enter into a five-year (or more) contact with Netflix and might be an advantage to month-to-month users. I envision this "university account" working similarly to a library research database. Some databases only allow one viewer to view an article at a time. Residence halls could also greatly benefit from this service. The amount of students with Wii systems and HD televisions is growing every year.

I think the future is filled with services focused on video downloads and streaming websites/services. The number of video offerings within each genre will increase and the the number of users will definitely increase. This increase in the number of users will be accompanied by more satisfied users who will experience a more customized viewing experience. However, as the amount of users increase, the amount of bandwidth will need to increase as well.

Thanks for your question! What do you think?

Millennial Professor - Jennifer T. Edwards, Ed.D.

1 comment:

  1. This question also came up at our instituition last month. This is what I wrote back.

    Q: Is it possible for a school to sign up for a Netflix subscription?

    A: No, this would be a violation of Netflix’s terms of use which state that use is granted only for personal use (ttp:// According to Steve Swasey, Netflix’ vice president of corporate communications, Netflix does not offer institutional subscriptions. All of its media are meant only for personal consumption. Loaning DVD’s out for faculty members to project onscreen in class or allowing students to watch streaming video from a library (1)

    An article in the Chronicle for Higher Education provides a discussion of the issues and risks faced by Universities that have set up Library programs where Faculty and Students can borrow and stream movies using the school’s Netflix subscription.
    Copyright lawyer and librarian Kevin Smith, a scholarly communications officer at Duke University, said academic libraries are taking a risk with these programs. Although copyright law allows faculty members to use the material in the classroom, he said, they may be opening themselves up to legal action from the company. Mr. Smith said. “It’s not a copyright issue. It’s an issue of the contract between the user and Netflix.”
    The website also has an analysis of the legality of using Netflix in an academic library setting



    The Chronicle for Higher ed piece raised several good points including the confusion between copyright and a license agreement. As more of the media we consume is digital we need to educate our users (Students and Faculty) on this distinction. At the same time we need to push our content vendors and our lawmakers to provide modern services and laws.

    In K12 we have had a lot of success with streaming services such as United Streaming from Discovery. Many of the videos are tagged by state standard and we have an institutional license.


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