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Streaming and The End of Broad Cultural Reach

After this last election many people looked around and wondered how we became so estranged and divided from each other. Some blame is placed on the fact that when searching for information online, the top results are sites that reflect the kind of outlook and political ideology that you already favor. Now it seems that one of the ways that had exposed us to the lives of people different than ourselves in the past is also disappearing. Mainstream network television that used to introduce the American public to multiple viewpoints is beginning to transform into a different experience. For example, “One Day at a Time,” a 1970s sitcom about what it was like to be a single, working class parent, regularly attracted 17 million viewers every week. With the advent of streaming and subscription on demand services, television no longer has that broad cultural reach. Instead, what we watch is consciously chosen, and just like an online search, most often reflects the views and opinions we already hold. In a way, we’re returning to the cultural era that predated radio and TV - one where there wasn’t very much shared culture.