The future is digital. When it started, Netflix was the only competitive name in the international market for online streaming content, offering competitive prices and a wide variety of content. Needless to say, the playing field has changed since 2007. Now, audiences have a wide variety of services to chose from, including Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Go and the upcoming Disney Streaming Service, which will offer original Marvel content and the upcoming, $100 million Jon Favreau Star Was show. There are more top-tier options to chose from as well, including Sling, Playstation VUE and CBS streaming site All Access, which recently revealed Patrick Stuart’s return as Picard in an upcoming Star Trek show. YouTube has gotten into creating original content with Cobra Kai and Apple is looking to create original content by 2019 after investing $1 billion in the venture.
While the cost of streaming still is cheaper than regular cable for most, how long before those combined costs surpass the cost of cable?
Cutting The Cord
The interest in cutting the cord with cable and going completely digital has gained favour with many customers over recent years. Many cite that opting out of cable offers higher quality and variety while paying a fraction of the cost. In 2016, Fortune Magazine did a write up on the cost of cable in the United States, stating:
“”Last year, the total for cable TV rose above $99 a month on average, and it’s up another 4% to $103.10″
How long will it be then until we have all our streaming services packaged together for one fee? It’s ironic to think that the idea of cutting the cable will actually lead to the consumer creating a new cable, so to speak, where a flat fee will cover as many streaming services as one would like. Depending on how many channels there are in the future, consumers would be able to choose from a variety of bundles, much like how digital cable is today.
A Growing Market
As everyone seems to want to enter the streaming market and create their own awarding-winning original content, like Netflix did with House of Cards (which essentially changed online television forever), the interest -and cost- of these services will go up. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has stated that he wanted his creative department to find him their answer to Game of Thrones, tasking Amazon Studio’s chief Roy Price with making “big shows that can make the biggest difference around the world.” We know that Amazon will be making an original Lord of the Rings show to compete with the Game of Thrones’ prequel and that Netflix is adapting The Witcher novels into a Netflix series (which I am personally very excited for, pending cast news).
Disney has already expressed interest in creating original content on their platform and having their new films like The Lion King remake and Toy Story 4 could be available there from the outset while the previously mentioned Jon Favreau Star Wars show that will take place in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens will only be available there until the home video release, and who is to say that’s even a granted. They’re also going to launch the final season of The Clone Wars on this channel, creating a lot of incentive to sign up even if only for a small portion of the ultimate library.
While it seems that everyone is getting on this bandwagon and it’s getting frustrating to chose, why shouldn’t companies invest in streaming options? Streaming is in, while box office numbers are down, plummeting from “$1.4 billion in 2009 to $886 million [in 2017]” as stated in a Yahoo Finance report. While we have no idea how many services will be available in five to ten years, we can be quite confident that they’ll continue to grown and the cost of having all that content will naturally grow with it. It seems that everyone is getting in on the streaming platform and ultimately, it’s starting to get hard to choose which ones to sign up for, as the more content being offered means less money in your pocket. So having five or ten services bundled together for a flat rate seems to make sense the more the industry grows.
Of course, the issue of regional exclusive content will come up again. Services like CraveTV are currently available only in Canada but Hulu is only available in the United States. The question of who benefits most from this proposed concept is definitely something that may cause issues with some customers. Another problem would be how to make a bundle cost effective for the individual companies if they do it at all. This could theoretically include partnerships between companies, or all these platforms coming together to create a new company that would monopolize the market.
The concept of streaming isn’t just limited to films and television. Also part of Disney’s new plan is to launch a separate ESPN channel, opening the floodgates to having sports as part of the package, which in turn may open the doors to sport-specific channels and packages. Whether Disney creates a bundle with the two channels remains unknown as of this moment, but it’s definitely an indicator that the future of entertainment lies on the internet. How long until other sports channels, cooking or even basic cable make the transition to having online streaming services? Many cable channels have an on-demand service, which is a step towards this initiative but is still tethered to the original cable plan.
Having these services bundled together may seem like taking a step backwards, but financially, it’ll make the most sense for the consumer. It’ll likely mean the end of cable TV as we know it, but it’ll start the beginning of a new chapter (which ironically, will look an awful lot like the past). That is, of course, if the streaming services can come together and find a way to continue to make profits while also offering a bundled package that saves money for the consumer. Otherwise, there would be no point to this potential enterprise and consumers will be left wondering which streaming channels to chose from.
Do you think the future is a streaming package or will we have to pick and chose when the cost gets too expensive? Do you still have cable or are you streaming only right now? Let us know in the comments and check out our pieces on the monster that is the Alien and 10 Black and White Horror films that still stand up today.