Photo by David Van / As online streaming sites like Hulu and Netflix grow in popularity, the ease of access to television shows has made regular viewing more of a priority for many students.

With their flat-screens, high-definition and 3D viewing capabilities, the technology behind televisions is more sophisticated today than it has ever been. However, online streaming providers are emerging to challenge traditional television, and the alternative is proving attractive to college students in particular.

The advent of sites like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video has made accessing thousands of television shows faster and cheaper.

According to a report by USA Today, over the past several years college students have increasingly embraced the convenience of streaming sites. Taking advantage of campus wi-fi, students with limited free time are adapting their television viewing habits to a more accessible medium.

“My friends don’t watch shows on TV at all anymore.”

“I personally don’t use Netflix or Hulu, but my friends tell me that it is much more convenient to use the online streaming sites,” said Ashley Saienni, a second-year BME major.

Advertisers have recognized the shift in viewers’ attentions from television to Internet streaming, but television networks often fail to take this into account.

“Online streaming has been great for keeping up with shows, but I think [the networks] need to change the way they look at ratings because more of them are putting shows up online as they air or immediately afterward. That’s a lot of advertising revenue that the current ratings system doesn’t really pick up on, and sometimes shows get canceled because of it,” said Melissa Hyde, a fourth-year IAML major.

To compete with the growing popularity of online streaming subscription sites, television networks have made a point of uploading shows to their sites as quickly as possible.

“During my freshman year we just didn’t have a television in our dorm, so online streaming was the easiest and really the only way that I could catch up on my shows. The only problem I have is when the subscription sites don’t have the most recent seasons. ABC, CBS and a lot of other networks upload shows to their sites the day after they air, which is really nice,” said Sheena Shahangian, a second-year BA major.

Netflix and Amazon Instant Video have also made it possible to watch shows in a marathon-viewing fashion that can take up a lot of a student’s time.

“Online streaming changes the way you view the show.”

“Online streaming really does change the way you view the show. Usually I wait until I have more time, like during the weekend or breaks in the semester, and watch all of the episodes at once. If I sat in my room for three days straight and did that now I would probably fail all of my classes,” Hyde said.

In this way, the convenience of online streaming could be considered a distraction more than anything else.

“I can watch an entire show in practically a day, and I find myself watching the same episodes over and over again when I really have other things to do,” said Rachel Callaghan, a first-year PHYS major.

For others, the tempting escape of online streaming cannot compete with the often overwhelming responsibilities of college life.

“I watched more television in high school than I do now, because I had more free time then. Just sitting around watching TV seems like a waste of time. But watching it would definitely be more of an escape to get out of the ‘Tech bubble’ than a distraction for me,” Saienni said.