Online video streaming service Netlix continues its growth over traditional television, In a recent survey more than sixty percent of the millenial generation say that Netflix is there first go to for watching movies and shows, that compared to fifty five percent who stick with traditional cable and satellite television. Now with record breaking profits the streaming giant Netflix has branched out of buying the streaming rights for movies and network programs but instead making their own original series. By 2016 Netflix had released around 126 original movies and shows, ranging from drama, children and foreign language. With no commercial sponsors to report to these originals sparked a new age in digital movies and shows. The first release in 2013 House of Cards, an American political thriller, was critically acclaimed and has received six Emmys, two Golden Globes and a multitude of other awards and nominations. The resounding success opened the gates for Netflix to create more original series. In 2015 it received the rights to the Marvel comic universe and released four different series, with Jessica Jones winning the Peabody Entertainment award.
But a few years ago Netflix started a new branch of exclusive programs aimed at one thing, the 1990s. As part of it origonal programming business model Netflix producers have targeted dozens of tv programs from the 90s and bring them back. Among this list is Fuller House, a reboot of the American sitcom Full House which aired from 1987 to 1995. Fuller House was released in 2016 with most of the original cast reprising their original roles. Among other reboots are what are called ‘cult classics’ that despite not having been aired for nearly two decades has a strong loyal fan base. Among this is the reboot of Mystery Science Theatre Space 3000, a comedy program following a man and his robots watching bad movies and commenting on them. The wildly successful comedy ran from 1988 to 1999 switching between three different channels in it’s run. In 2016 partnering with Netflix the show creator lead a crowdfunding campaign to create a new revised series. The campaign raised nearly 6,000,000 dollars, enough to film 12 new episodes. Also on the 90s reboot roster is the Magic School Bus, a childrens educational cartoon that stopped airing in 1995.
But what is the cause of this 90s nostalgia that Netflix and other networks chasing after? Netflix might have been a major cause of this new nostalgia wave, with having all the episodes of 90s Television cornerstones such as the X-Files and Freinds online for streaming. Surprisingly millennials and teenagers are constantly streaming old episodes of Friends. But is is the comedy that makes the younger generation keep re-watching or is there a power in watching the pre-digital age? Several psychological institutions have started to study the mental effect of nostalgia. One psychology professor says it’s a powerful force and important to well being, describing it as “perfect internal politician, connecting the past with the present, pointing optimistically to the future” and a mental state “absolutely central to human experience”
However the media and marketing industries have seen the power nostalgia has on millennials and are ready to capitalize on it. Advertising is ever moving closer to embracing the ‘retro’ culture in an effort to boost nostalgia, disarming the consumer with pleasant memories and making them likely to buy a product. A recent article in Forbes detailed this “Alongside hectic work schedules, unrelenting responsibilities, and more, fond memories make us smile — and that leaves us open to brand messaging. When we feel or care for something, we’re much more likely to act. Share a compelling blast from the past with a millennial, and you’re likely to reach them on an emotional level — the holy grail of brand marketing.”
So then the question we ask as media consumers, is this new wave of 90s television revival networks listening to nostalgic fans bringing back their favourite programs from decades long ago? Or do they see the power feeling nostalgic has in marketing and pumping the media full of it as advertising strategy? The answer: probably a bit of both. In the end for the near future we better get ready for a tsunami of reboots and revivals of 80s and 90s television, movies and culture because feeling like it’s the past, makes money.