Today, the Walt Disney Company launched their online movie and television streaming service, Disney+ and for me, that’s one streaming service too many.
I remember when Netflix came onto the scene in 2010 as one of the first major movie and television streaming services. It really revolutionized entertainment, especially when they started producing their own content in 2013. Not only did they start the cord cutting movement, as they rendered cable subscriptions increasingly irrelevant, but they also started a trend that all major studios, production companies and television networks have since jumped on to.
Which leads me to my problem with the whole situation; everyone has a streaming service now.
There are over 100 streaming services operating today. Over 100. They range from the popular, like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video, to the obscure, like FuboTV, Philo and SlingTV, to the bizarre, like YouTube TV (they charge $40.00 a month and still make you sit through advertisements).
While initially companies like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video were fine, as they worked with a variety of production companies and television networks to secure a wide variety of content which, coupled with the content they produced in-house, made for a well-rounded service worth the modest monthly fee.
However, what we are seeing increasingly today is these same production companies and television networks pulling their content from these streaming services in order to start up their own. CBS All Access, ESPN+, Sportsnet Now, CBC Gem, The Movie Network Go, HBO Now, ABC Premiere, Lifetime Movie Club, Hallmark Movies Now, FX+, History Vault and now, Disney+.
While that list was exhausting, it is in no way exhaustive. There are dozens and dozens of individual channels and networks that have started their own streaming services and many of them are priced over $10.00 a month.
This compartmentalization of programming, divided by not just the TV channel but by the production company and their parent companies and so on, is not only making each individual streaming service less valuable to the consumer, but it is making the whole process more cumbersome and less user friendly to boot.
No matter what any of these companies might think, there is a bubble growing in the streaming service market and one day it’s going to pop. The average American family, according to an article from Forbes Magazine released earlier this year, has three active streaming service subscriptions at a cost of roughly $8.00 a month each. This makes me question the decisions by some of these TV networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and so on (many of which haven’t made decent original content in at least a decade) to charge people upwards of $10.00 for access to only their repertoire.
Say you watched a lot of sitcoms in the mid-2000’s. Some popular shows from that time were The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, The Office and Scrubs. While five years ago, you might have been able to find all of these shows on Netflix (and maybe Hulu). Today, you would need CBS All Access for The Big Bang Theory, Netflix for How I Met Your Mother and The Office (until Disney pulls How I Met Your Mother now that they own 21st Century Fox and when NBC’s streaming service launches next year with The Office) and ABC Premiere for Scrubs. They’ve now potentially doubled the number of streaming services any person might need just to watch shows that they used to flip to on cable (and that assumes that people even know what network the shows aired on or who owns the rights to that show or movie currently).
This streaming service model is anything but sustainable. It’s clear that these production company executives saw the numbers that Netflix, Hulu and Amazon were doing with their streaming services and wanted a piece of the pie, but now it seems like they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.
The reality is, we know that people have a limit when it comes to subscriptions they will have, as they are trying to spend less per month than they did for cable after all and it’s clear that convenience is a big factor in why companies like Netflix are so popular, while you don’t hear people talking about their Hallmark Movies Now subscription.
I hope that enough of these services crash and burn so things can go back to being a bit more simplistic, as this really is in the best interest of all consumers. Otherwise, we can likely expect to hold our noses in a few years when we have to pay $25.00 a month for “The Weather Network Now Premiere Go Club+”.