Monday, November 2, 2015

Spreading Streaming Services

There are a ton of streaming video services these days. Some say too many. We may be heading toward that point, but for now, I'm pretty happy to see the proliferation.
Not too long ago, Netflix was pretty much the only game in town. It was only 8 years ago, in 2007, when Netflix streaming was introduced. And only 4 years ago, in 2011, Netflix started providing original content (with House of Cards). In both cases, Netflix was a pioneer.

In the years since, lots of other streaming services have followed that path. Amazon Prime Video is the other large player, but there's lots of others as well. CBS has their own service, HBO has HBO Go, Crunchyroll has anime, and there's Hulu. (Though since Hulu often only shows the last few episodes, not entire back catalogs, it's less impressive than the others.)

Depending on the content you want to watch, you might need several different services, as I mentioned when I discussed cord-cutting. Want to see Marvel's Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the rest of the Defenders series? Pay Netflix. Interested in the newly announced Star Trek series? Pay CBS. Want to see The Man in the High Castle series (based on the Phillip K Dick novel)? Pay Amazon. Keeping up with Game of Thrones? Pay HBO. If you subscribe to all those services, and keep them all going at all times, it can get really expensive. Especially if you aren't a cord-cutter and have a cable bill on top of all the streaming services.

Despite that, I don't mind seeing all these different services. The reason is that I'm given a choice. Rather than paying one big bill for a bunch of stuff I don't care about and a few things that I do, I can pick and choose which ones I want. Also, these services are easy to start and stop. So I can pick up Netflix for a month or two, watch things I'm interested in, then cancel it for a while. (That doesn't work with Amazon Prime very well, but Prime is a different animal anyway, since Amazon packages a bunch of other things along with the streaming service.) Since I have that choice and flexibility, the service providers have to keep me happy, or I'll just stop paying them and go somewhere else.

So for now, I'm happy to see lots of different streaming services. They have to compete on both content and customer service, which is good for us as consumers. And as long as you're willing to put a little effort into deciding which services you need and for how long, the cost can be reasonable as well. As long as that continues, I have no problem seeing a lot of different choices out there.

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