True, the title might be a little bit clickbait. But today’s news articles on various tech sites made me cringe once again. To start off, I’m trying to cut the cord and I love to consume media, be it movies, TV shows, music and books. And I’m more than happy to pay for it given that the pricing and service level is reasonable. But, here we go…
So, take music for instance. Worldwide there are only a handful of players on the market: Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Microsoft Groove. Currently I mainly use Spotify, but whatever service you sign up with, their catalogs are reasonably complete. Almost all bands I listen to frequently (mainly heavy metal) is on it. Except for some really obscure underground bands or the occasional artist who gives you the finger and points to his/her physical album when you mention streaming. Everyone one of those services is very easy to use and does what I as a consumer wants. A simple, accessible platform for me to consume media.
The movie and TV landscape however is not that great. Yes, just like music there are some really big players like Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime or Crunchyroll if your into Anime. But unlike the music services, with its overlapping catalogs these services thrive on exclusivity. Want to watch “awesome show #1”, you’ll only find it on Netflix. Want to see “awesome classic show from your childhood #2”? Get Hulu, and so on, you get the picture.
And for where I live (The Netherlands), HBO content is the nastiest of the bunch, as you can only get it via one ISP. So if you want to watch “Game Of Thrones” for instance and don’t live in an area where Ziggo (a cable ISP) delivers its service, or you happen to be on fiber or a different ISP, you’re screwed. You either have to wait for the DVD and Blu-ray release, so good luck not getting spoilered. Or you have to do a walk of shame into the dark streets and corners of the internet. No wonder a show like “Game Of Thrones” is the most pirated show ever.
Anyway, signing up with a few of these services will get you the majority of the content. For some years now I have a Netflix & Crunchyroll subscription and still love those. Up to the point it was available through my provider there was an HBO subscription as well. And heck, as soon as Amazon Prime will allow other payment options beside a credit-card I’ll probably sign up for them and their ‘Anime Strike’-plan as well. But as I wrote before, that thing I want as a consumer, that simple, accessible platform is not really there. As you constantly have to check if and which show is on which service, and the costs for me as a beginning cord cutter is starting to raise to a point before I started to cut it.
But it can get even worse. More and more content makers, like CBS, or as Disney announced today, are pulling their content from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime to start, yes, their own streaming service… As a business I get it, they want to make money. And offering your content on someone else’s platform will mean that you have to pay them for their infrastructure and service so you’ll have a lower return from your investment.
But as a consumer it means that I potentially have to sign up for even more services to watch that one show I really like, but off course I can spend my money only once. So in the end it means I will only signup for a few services which will result in some companies not getting anything at all from my wallet, instead off a smaller cut now through my payment to Netflix for instance.
Money, isn’t the only reason. I get that for a mere handful of dollars per month I wont be able to watch everything. And that I, as a consumer don’t have to right to demand to be able to watch everything. That is just plain unreasonable as content creators and deliverers also have to make a living. But I’m more than happy to pay double or even triple for a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime if in the end it will grow to what Spotify is for music now. A simple, accessible, one-stop platform with an almost complete catalog.
For now I guess I have to dream on and hope for the best…