Streaming Tipping Point

The biggest selling point for Netflix when it premiered was that you could watch all your old, beloved shows in one spot for a low fee. The original offerings were limited, especially for original content, but at least there was a single location that housed nearly all the audience’s favorite shows of days past. Then Hulu came on the scene, and it fixed that issue, for the most part. Instead of just past series, now you could watch current and ongoing programs with a slight delay with or without commercials depending on how much you were willing to spend. Again, far from perfect, but combine Netflix and Hulu and you essentially had nearly all your favorite shows, past and present, on demand for minor costs, particularly compared to the costs of cable and satellite. Back then, these two services seemed like the future of television and film programming. In a way they were, we just didn’t imagine that they would simply recreate what had already been done, but worse.

Streaming has basically become cable but more fragmented. Instead of having all, or even a majority, of the shows you would want to watch, there are now maybe a handful of series and films on each service that are actually worth watching while everything else is mostly mid to garbage. However, unlike television or even cable where there were more limited options and studios to buy programming, the ongoing streaming wars have added endless hours that need to be filled with content to justify the existence of the channel or service. Unfortunately, even crap still costs money, so the $5 dollars here and $10 dollars there costs of streaming services are quickly disappearing because to keep piling on more and more content to satisfy the algorithm, audience, and shareholders all these services need money, so prices will continue to go up with less and less return on investment.

Yeah, streaming is past the tipping point where it has just replicated the system it was supposed to improve. Sadly, I doubt there will be any real solution to this. Thus, streaming will continue on its current path until there are only the biggest companies owning everything, just like with standard film and television media, that will wring every possible dollar from consumers. Rinse and repeat in another few years where some supposedly new and exciting invention and insight that will revolutionize the industry…again. It was fun while it lasted, I guess.

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