Commemorating The Golden Age Of Streaming

Do you remember the golden age of streaming?  It was when there were only a few platforms to choose from, and you were viewed as an early adopter of technology for using them.  When that high-quality content came to your device with no ads, and you could binge your favorite stories as you saw fit, you felt like the king of the entertainment world.  Those were the good old days – and they were in effect even the last quarter.

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.

3 comments about "Commemorating The Golden Age Of Streaming".
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  1. Chris Maginn from Situation Pub, August 24, 2022 at 3:39 p.m.

    Also finding that there may be one series or show on a particular streaming service that might entice me to sign up. Then after viewing that content the service becomes "meh" and I move on.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 25, 2022 at 7:43 a.m.

    Good one, Cory. Though I'm not sure that  it's fair to say that streaming is becoming just like cable. After all, you always had to pay for cable and many of the streaming services---FASTs---dont charge you anything. Broadcast TV was the one that you once got for free; providing you maintained your set properly, you could watch all you wanted.

    I realize that people in the media and ad business still look down on cable----lots of cheap programming, too many reruns, too many commercials,etc.----but in reality, it's the broadcast TV powers that be who are leading the charge as they move into streaming, bringing with them their network fare, their owned cable channels and local station/syndicated content, including news, sports, etc. And they are also leading the charge to make most streaming services ad-supported---so streamers who cut the cord will now get the same kinds of program content--- and commercials--- that they abandoned when they dumped, "pay TV".

    In other words, streaming is becoming just another way to access traditional TV---with the on-demand option as an added plus---providing you can find the specific  shows you wish to see without spending so time searching for them from app to app that you give up in disgust. 

    Is this a good thing? Good question. But it's really out of the consumers' hands. If you don't like it, you can drop out and boycott streaming TV as well as "linear TV"---but as history tells us, most people make the best of the situation keep paying and watching.

  3. William Chambers from a4 Advertising, August 31, 2022 at 2:56 p.m.

    In addition, the same content is also available on multiple platforms based on who owns and distributes that same content on the various tiered offerings available, through ownership or partnerships.  One example among many = Viacom-CBS / Paramount Plus / Pluto TV - through direct app downloads, subscriptions, pre-loaded -or- downloaded apps on smart TV's, smartphones, Amazon Prime ... this list goes on!  Same programs, different commercial loads/inventory.

    Cable once upon a time held the promise of "commercial free content" through a subscription.  Didn't last long.  It's happening with streaming as we speak - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Technology advancements will continue to drive change in consumer viewing behavior.  As far as measuring all of this - that is a completely different challenge.  Talk about job security for the MRC!!    

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