Remember all those years we waited for the future of streaming entertainment to arrive? Remember how we could see it
coming—a future where we could say goodbye
to cable while signing on to smaller streaming
packages that suited us better—but it seemed
to take an eternity to finally get here?
Well, it’s here now, and we can all enjoy a
variety of niche services that stream whatever
we like to whatever device we choose at whatever time is convenient.
Well, some of us can enjoy it. Others are just
so bothered by all these choices!
The over-the-top backlash has arrived, and
it’s taken the form of whiny articles that carp
about the many subscription services we can
now select from.
Did I say select No, apparently we’re forced
to subscribe … to all of them. Consider the ar-
ticle in The Washington Post, “Freedom From
Cable Isn’t Free: Flood of Streaming Services
Will Make Cutting the Cord More Complicated”
( go2sm.com/wapo). It bemoans the fact that CBS
is debuting new The Good Wife and Star Trek se-
ries on CBS All Access, “… marking yet another
service people may need to subscribe to.”
The article also quotes a Chicago father of two
who’s upset about paying more money but get-
ting fewer channels: “I don’t want to end up in a
place where you have to subscribe to a bunch of
Need to … Have to … These poor people!
Some sinister organization is holding a gun to
their heads and forcing them to pay for premi-
For The Washington Post, subscribing to Netflix was all right, but now that there are many
quality streaming services—“At least six networks have launched services, with subscription fees ranging from $6 to $15 per month”—
it’s all too much. “The cost and mental effort of
managing multiple services may be starting to
prove nettlesome,” it says.
A few days later, The New York Times upped
the ante with “The Messy, Confusing Future
of TV? It’s Here” ( go2sm.com/nyt). The author
starts out with a legitimate criticism: It’s tedious
to search through several subscription services
to find the show or movie you want. The people
at Roku thought it was legitimate, too, which is
why they created a universal search years ago.
It’s not the only device to have one. Someone
tell the Old Gray Lady there’s a solution.
But then the Times burbles hysterically
that, “we’ve rushed headlong into a hyper-
fragmented mess,” and wishes that some “en-
terprising entrepreneur” would package these
services together and sell them for a single
price. You know, like cable TV does. A Frost &
Sullivan analyst by the name of Dan Rayburn
pours water on this fever dream, saying, “There’s
no chance of that happening.”
Here’s what I’d like these tortured writers
to understand, and it’s good advice for anyone
who feels overwhelmed by choices: You don’t
have to take them all. Try one or two services
that appeal to you. Watch the shows and mov-
ies you enjoy. Binge watch all weekend, if that’s
your thing. Then, when your queue is empty,
drop those services and try others. There are
no commitments here. This isn’t cable. If the
only thing you like on Netflix is House of Cards,
then watch the new season and drop the ser-
vice. If the only show you like on HBO is Game
of Thrones, then watch the new episodes and
drop HBO Now when you’re done. It’s so easy.
But if you find that those services have more
than enough good content for you, keep them
and don’t worry about the others. You don’t
need to watch every good show. If you plan on
leaving the house once in a while, it’s not even
Yes, there are a lot of quality shows these
days and it’s tempting to gorge on them all,
but we’re going to have to get used to making
choices. There will only be more subscription
video-on-demand services in the coming years
offering more variety. That’s a good thing. I suspect people will get used to it.
Troy Dreier ( email@example.com) is senior associate
editor of Streaming Media and Onlinevideo.net.
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Woe Is Us! The Future of
Streaming TV Is Nettlesome