Freedom and a revolution. These were the grand promises the commercials for new streaming programs promised. Cut the cord and watch TV the way you want.
Many years and monthly subscriptions later, we have circled back around to the same problem we were trying to escape.
Americans have strongly embraced streaming with 70% of U.S. households subscribed to a streaming service for an average cost of $8.53 for each service, according to a 2019 Forbes article. According to the same article, the average American subscriber is now subscribed to more than three streaming services at one time in order to get more content. The mixing and matching of the smaller services that don’t offer live TV make for a relatively cheap way to get entertainment, but that may be changing soon.
“The Office,” which has long been one of the most popular shows on Netflix, is “going home” to NBC’s new service NBCUniversal, according to a press release from NBCUniversal earlier this year. While this is not news to anyone, this does show a trend that is happening within the streaming industry. It is becoming more fragmented with the number of choices leading to lots of subscriptions and less content.
Traditional TV networks are pulling content off of other services like Netflix to bolster the content on its own streaming services. Disney has announced its massive streaming service, Disney + which will include a slew of new and exclusive content from the MCU to the Muppets. Disney + will also be reclaiming Disney content off of other streaming platforms like Netflix.
This means that viewers who want to see the same content will now need more subscriptions. If people want to watch “The Office,” “Stranger Things” and a Disney movie, it will now take three subscriptions instead of one.
This feels a lot like buying different add ons for cable packages where consumers start out with a base set of options and further expand it.
Oh, did I mention that none of these, besides Disney +, includes any live sports? So if people want to watch the Super Bowl, which almost a third of the country did in 2019 even on a down year, according to a CNBC article, then that is going to cost another streaming service such as Youtube TV or Hulu Live, which are much more expensive than their non-live counterparts.
Not to mention all of these require a decent internet connection to function properly, with even more bandwidth required. The average cost for good internet in a residential home is around $60 dollars a month, according to a USA Today article from 2018.
Getting strong WiFi connection in rural places such as Maryville is not always easy either, especially considering the bandwidth it takes to support streaming live TV.
There seems to be no sign of the cable issue regurgitation slowing down with Disney + offering lower prices if customers lock into a three-year contract.
While the advantages of on-demand entertainment and binge-watching are evident, many cable and satellite companies are beginning to evolve in that area as well. The ever-increasing amount of streaming services with less to offer than before will lead to many consumers hoping to “cut the cord” and end up wrapping themselves in endless individual monthly subscriptions.