Streaming is starting to resemble cable now, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Streaming services are moving toward integrating ads. Netflix and Disney+ have specific plans for doing so, and some are already running ads. The streaming services will have these as separate tiers available to customers to choose from, but it’s a slippery slope to balance ad-supported pricing with ever-increasing monthly subscription rates.
As we look to the future, we will reach a tipping point where it simply doesn’t make sense to keep paying for no ads when the ad-supported models cost less. This will be further complicated by the sheer volume of selection when you examine the full landscape of solutions available.
I already have five different streaming services in use by my family, with more on the horizon. Some we subscribe to, while others are bundled with the internet or with my cellphone. That’s a lot of options. It’s now eerily similar to bouncing around a tethered cable platform to determine what to watch.
I like things simple, and streaming has become anything but simple.
Even binge watching is becoming a thing of the past, as some shows are staggering roll-outs to keep subscribers from jumping on and off their subscriptions. It makes perfect business sense, but it also brings us back to the same type of experience we left when we cut the cord, further mirroring a world we thought we left for good. The endless scrolling of the guide has returned in some cases, but with better images.
They say change is the only constant in life, but I find it interesting when change is simply a regression from the disruption that was streaming back to the normalcy of the previous cable TV model. Did we learn nothing when we left? It pains me to see us venture backward.
Streaming is just going to continue to look more like TV. Soon platforms will increase “nickel and dime” pricing for increased storage, accessibility from multiple devices and special add-ons for things like live sports and special early-release movies. Even pay-per-view is inevitable as they look to level the playing field and find more ways to extract value from their customers.
During the pandemic, streaming became exponentially more valuable, and subscriber numbers increased. With most of COVID “under control,” we seem to be reverting because some customers are leaving. The platforms invest in content, but they need to find other ways to keep new customers from jumping ship.
One thing they should look at is subscription sharing, or how too often people share their logins with family. If they could fix this issue, they might be able to fix their declining numbers.
Here’s to a future where we can hope to see streaming platforms provide a quality level of experience unlike cable TV. I hope we can return to the golden age of streaming before too long.