What may be termed “the Netflix effect” has many consequences. As you rightly observe, it frees people from the absurd chore of sitting in a relatively asset-lite environment (no ability to pause the movie while you get up to use the lavatory or raid the kitchen, and only junk to swill instead of real food should you be hungry) in which the noises of strangers and the backs of their heads significantly diminish your viewing pleasure after you’ve sat through 30+ minutes of tedious ads for products and other movies (I love the fact that in French the word avertissement means “warning!”).
But these are trivial benefits compared to the real upside: unlike Hollywood, which must forever churn out repetitive mind-numbing trash in order to appeal to the mass market (which means by definition the mobilus vulgaris), Netflix can play across a much wider spectrum because it can appeal to niches that cumulatively are large enough to serve. For example, a series about a group of empathetic telepaths spread across the world, all speaking different languages, wouldn’t score highly among mid-westerners looking to gawp at well-muscled men while cramming popcorn down their throats. Hollywood would never have committed millions to film it. But such a series can appeal to a minority of viewers across many different nations — all by using the simple expedient of sub-titles — and thus have a total audience large enough to make the investment a good one.
Netflix et al enjoys far greater artistic freedom than Hollywood could ever dream of, and we all benefit in consequence. Spielberg is right to be alarmed: the market for his by-the-numbers sentimental trash is being disrupted and far higher quality products are being delivered to those with the aesthetic sensibility necessary to enjoy them.
Clearly Netflix will churn out trash too — after all, it needs to make money — but it will also, on the margins, give us entertainment that doesn’t rely entirely on brain-numbing cliches and a wheelbarrow-full of guns. And that’s the biggest win, far beyond avoiding the stale interiors of your local megaplex.