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Don’t ruin streaming by turning it into cable (techcrunch.com)
161 points by frostmatthew 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 146 comments

It seems to me like more of this fragmentation will make streaming less like cable.

I don't care much for Disney content. Now that Disney's leaving, that frees up Netflix resources to (hopefully) get more of the content that I want. Realistically I'm not fond of Netflix's offerings of late, so I don't have high hopes. It's like basic cable these days; very shallow coverage of a lot of different things, so my interest tends to evaporate quickly. But the more that more focused Netflix alternatives pop up, the more I can find things that do suit my interests.

In summary, yes, please do "ruin" streaming for the author. It'll make streaming all the better for me.

The problem is there is going to be a minimum monthly fee of around 10$ to keep the lights on. So, fragmentation just increases prices without any net benefit for the consumer.

The real killer IMO is most young adults just don't watch much TV in any form. If your watching ~10 hours a month then paying for more than one streaming service is just a waste. Don't forget it's the median viewer that's important not the average of 0, 1, 2, 3, 100.

> The real killer IMO is most young adults just don't watch much TV in any form.

It's interesting, I'm 32 so on the upper end of millennial. We're supposed to be the multitasking, multiple screen generation.

But I'll visit older relatives, say 55+, and they'll have the TV on constantly and just talk over it. I find it so distracting and honestly stressful, like when you're on a conference call, your boss is Slacking you and your friend's texting about their fight with their SO last night.

My friends my age all say the same. For most "young adults," you're either silently watching TV, or you're doing something else.

My best guess is that TV has gotten louder and faster paced, but older viewers have hung on to their habits. I bet I could easily have a conversation during Cheers or '90s Law and Order, but not today's shows.

I'm a young adult and I watch way more TV than I'm comfortable divulging to my friends. Easily more than three hours a day on average.

At the same time, I'm usually not paying much attention as I'm either doing work or studying while it is on in the background

Humans can't multitask regardless of their generation

He/she means, rapid task switching.

Plus I don't want to manage subscriptions in a bunch of different places. For instance, on Amazon I can add/remove things like HBO and Showtime and have it all in one place.

As much as I like Twin Peaks, I'm not sure I would have signed up for Showtime to watch it weekly unless it were right there with the rest of my content.

Except for Sling, I manage all of my subscriptions through iTunes -- Netflix, Hulu, Starz (during the summer), CBS All Access, and PluralSight (yeah it's still video content). I can still use the subscriptions on any device, including my Rokus.

Exactly. I'm not going to go to Disney or Showtime and subscribe on everyone's platform to watch the one or two shows I would watch. But if it's a reasonably priced addition to whatever streaming service I regularly use... I'm more likely to.

As a consumer, I do feel I'm seeing a net benefit without any price increases - or at least a benefit commensurate with the price increase. I watch one alternative streaming service for a while, then, when another that interests me more comes along, I switch to that one and cancel the old one. So the amount of content available to me is "eventually better" at a price that's currently pretty stable.

You're right, though, part of this is that I don't watch much TV in any form. It's probably less than 2 hours a week. So it really doesn't make much sense for me to subscribe to more than one service at a time. Not that that means we've canceled the Netflix subscription, but it's becoming a perennial discussion topic around our house of late.

Let me turn it around, on you, though: What makes you think that having a really good library of streaming content available on a single service at Netflix's prices is even financially tenable? The last time Netflix had a really great selection was when their prime service was still renting DVDs, so I certainly don't think they've been able to demonstrate that it's possible. And if they can't, who can? As more of a long tail consumer, the One Streaming Service to Rule Them All future looks pretty bleak to me - cheap, sure, but also crappy. You get what you pay for.

My theory is it's just a question of getting the financials right. A streaming service that's passes along ~80% of it's revenue based on what individual people watch and some weighting so more recent content gets a higher multiple seems like the long term winner.

The idea is if someone watches 2 hours a month then whatever they watch gets high value. But, if someone watches 200 hours a month then everyone gets far less. And the net benifit is both niche content for picky viewers and bulk content for people that want background noise are both viable.

Right now there are similar calculations, but it's very indirect which makes fragmentation seem like a better deal for content creators.

One likely future is more a la carte purchasing, whether to rent or own. We're well on the way to that with movies. No all-you-can-eat subscription service has even a mediocre selection. And, having effectively driven everyone else in the space out of business, Netflix' long tail DVD catalog is degrading as they apparently don't replace disks that are lost/damaged.

I agree with the broader point though. I don't watch a lot of TV which means there's a definite limit to how many subscription services I'll get. Maybe that means I don't watch a show here or there I might have been inclined to but that's OK.

The min price is about $10 because there isnt that much competition yet. I suspect if the author's fragmentation comes true, it will go down for single studi/channel offerings.

There won't be competition for exclusive content like Disney, AMC, HBO etc. except piracy which is still a lot easier for a lot of people, and if fragmentation continues, it will be Even more so.

I think piracy is the real competitor here. Unless they stop torrents they wont succeed here.

Make it easier than piracy, done!

Today you cannot pay for a recent movie unless you go to a cinema (which I personally find an anachronism). To pay for older content, you need to find who is streaming it, pay a subscription with them, then find in what country they streaming it, pay for some fancy VPN service, setup the fancy VPN, restart your device and now watch it.

Or, you can pirate it and watch it!

Piracy will always be easiest. Much like most unethical things.

I think services like Spotify or Google play music are already much easier than pirating songs. Why do you think a similar state cannot be achieved for TV shows or movies?

Unless you're in a country where the licensing disagrees. Or a label chooses not to sell a catalog to you.

Music does work a little differently. You pay per play, vs. TV you're paying for a catalog.

Steam is a great counter-example. As is spotify.

Steam is a great example, licensing seems to be pretty universal most of the times allowing games in most countries. Music is a little harder and TV/movies are a lot harder.

The music business is much more on board than TV/Movies. But TV/Movies still have a lot of leverage.

Piracy will always be competition because of availability and not price. A lot of people who can afford to pay pirate cause the content they want is not available to them legally. Unless we somehow switch to a global content platform piracy is here to stay. And it's not just torrents, you can now pay for illegal services that behave like Netflix with polished UIs and get access to a larger catalog without geographical restrictions.

No there would not be competition for the same disney movie. But there is a lot of competing content out there that will lower prices.

You don't need to have your own streaming service to charge for your stuff. Hulu, Amazon and VRV all have the ability to add packages to their basic offering.

It seems to me like more of this fragmentation will make streaming less like cable.

It looks like disintermediation, which is what the Internet was supposed to do. Direct from the studio to the consumer. But the reason probably comes from a bad deal.

One would think the NFL would run their own network. Major League Baseball does. But ESPN (owned by Disney) way overpaid for rights to show NFL games, for which viewership is declining. ESPN subscribers are down 13 million from the peak. They bought NFL rights near the top, so the NFL has a great deal for a few years. ESPN had to downsize substantially because of that mistake.[1]

On top of that, ESPN also apparently made a bad deal to broadcast NBA games. The phrase "sports rights bubble" is used.

This activity at Disney may be trying to dig out of the ESPN hole.

[1] https://www.outkickthecoverage.com/espn-cutting-nearly-100-m...

> One would think the NFL would run their own network.

Doesn't the NFL have NFL Network, RedZone, and NFL Sunday Ticket?

I think Major League Baseball wound up on the better end of the deal because they decided to not try to chase the dollars that the National Football League was racking up. They realized early on that they have (actual) thousands of events so if they go for the margin instead of the lump sum, awesome. It's why, even with the absurd blackout rules, MLB games are the most widely available...it doesn't pay for it to be any other way.

Now that Bud Selig is gone, I really think MLB is finally going to crack the in-market-but-not-on-cable streaming niche. The signs have been there for a couple of years, what with "follow a single team" MLB.tv packages and "watch your team anywhere, with a cable subscription." Several teams now allow buying in-market streaming through the team's web site...it just takes the willingness to do it and I think MLB Advanced Media is twisting some arms.

It wouldn't shock me to see several teams with owned regional sports networks, like the Mariners (Root Sports Northwest), Orioles (MASN), or Red Sox (NESN), come out and allow purchasing standalone access to their channels next season. The money is there for the taking...

I believe the parent was talking about the NFL selling its content directly to viewers* which they refuse to do despite fans begging them to PLEASE TAKE OUR MONEY!

*In the US. NFL games are more easily available outside of the US than in.

Couldn't agree more. I'd like to see this go even further and have nothing bundled. I much rather pay straight up for the shows I'm watching than get some bundle. Many shows are about $20 on Amazon or Play which is totally reasonable; you end up owning it and only pay for what you want. That's the model I like best. Unlikely to get everyone on that boat though.

EDIT: typos

Can you download the video files for the shows you buy, DRM-free?

If not, you don't "own" them at all.

The encryption on DVD and blu-ray discs is easily broken, so that's still a reasonable way to "own" your favorite shows. As far as I know, 4K blu-ray hasn't been cracked yet, so avoid those.

I've heard it here on HN that some buy the show then just pirate it when they watch it. Just because pirated content has a uniform interface, and a better overall user experience.

I hear that too, and I mostly agree with doing it, but I kind of feel it's a problem: It tells amazon "Oh, sure, your system is fine, I don't mind paying for DRM!" when in reality we shouldn't encourage DRM.

I wish I could go to the studio/artist/creator directly and say "Hey, I would like to pirate your content, here's some money", but outside of Patreon or the like, there's usually not an option to do that.

I've no doubt if amazon could just sell the raw file they would. It's rights holders who demand DRM and if amazon refuses itunes or someone else will happily step in and provide it.

And in fact Amazon does sell music like that, as downloadable mp3s.

I actually do that, I have legal access to Game of Thrones on cable but I still pirate it cause I want to watch it on the go on my laptop.

Putting the GO in HBO GO. Their naming scheme between HBO NOW and GO is also awful, and they even have separate apps.

I am not living in the US so not even HBO Go is an option for me

Mostly I'm only going to watch it once, so I'm happy with a rental model; cheaper as well. And not to different to a streaming approach, but only choosing and paying for what you actually want.

Hasn't that model existed for a while now?

Yes, but lots of content cannot be accessed that way. Especially not live sports events.

you never own anything you buy online these days. its only a license to watch stuff that can be taken from you at any time.

... but so far no event has made that really clear to the masses. That's coming, of course.

Although I must say I have an Apple account and made the mistake of switching countries (dialog box on iPad). Half the shows disappeared. No refund, no way to get them back.

Well there was Amazon removing some books once from Kindle accounts, and I think there were already several cases on Steam where a couple of games stopped being available as well. There is no reason why this kind of behavior would end anytime soon, and not spread further. After all, all the EULAs make it very clear the user has no rights at all when it comes to what they purchased. I'd really like stores to remove the term "buy" and replace it by "buy a license" to make it very clear that you never own anything. And on top of that, you can never resell what you buy, so it's definitely NOT ownership in any way.

Pfft, allow that.

I don't want to subscribe to 20 different streaming services because what I want is scattered across them.

This is why piracy is so rampant: god damned convenience.

If you remember the days when cable first came out it was a mess as well. Every company like MGM with Epix is dumping their library behind a paywall waiting for the great consolidation to come and buy licenses to all the libraries or just buy the library outright.

Stupid article.

There is the atavistic fantasy of "you can watch everything you want at one low price", except the price is not a low price, it is a high price.

The big anti-competitive problem with cable is that cable and satellite providers do not offer a choice of packages. You get basically the same thing with all providers. Hollywood loves it because they get paid no matter how good or bad the stuff they make is, but long term it is bad because there is no market discipline.

Some people with kids will love a Disney-branded streaming bundle and find a lot of value in it. Sports fans will see value in getting the games and commentary they want from ESPN.

Note Disney hasn't announced a "Marvel" or "Star Wars" bundle because in those cases they probably will need to partner with other companies. For instance, what kind of Marvel bundle doesn't have Spider-Man or the X-Men? Sony has the film rights for Spidey, Fox has the rights for the X-Men.

To make a really appealing "Superhero" bundle, Disney may need to team up with other companies...

well, there is a way to fulfill that fantasy: piracy. pretty much everything anyone wants, at the low, low price of free.

Piracy's been declining, but only by around 6%, according to this report ("Daily visits to piracy sites", pg 8): https://www.muso.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/MUSO_2017_Gl... And with VPN's, stream ripping, etc. getting more popular & copyright enforcement getting even more lackadaisical it's not clear if that's due to measurement bias or actually represents a decline. (And I don't know why it disagrees with the article's linked stats of 18% to 15% or 12% to 10%: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/07/04/internet-pi...)

It's not really clear if piracy's sustainable... will the free/illegal + paid/legal split continue forever? Or will the different sites continue to merge together somehow, despite the failure of streaming sites to offer 'all in one' deals? They almost seem like two different markets, with minimal overlap: https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2017/05/16/box-o...

don't forget that producing all this content costs 10's of billions per year so someone has to pay for it. both the cost of production and the amount produced keeps increasing so prices need to go up to.

I find the costs for producing films and TV shows a bit absurd. I'm sure they can optimise a lot, but they don't because they're used to paying 100 million dollars for a superhero movie. They can easily get 99% of the production value at far lower cost.

I find the costs for producing films and TV shows a bit absurd

I'm sure that if you, dingo_bat, were in charge of a film studio or TV company, you'd no doubt find incredible ways, overlooked by everyone else in the industry, to dramatically cut costs and increase profits.

Sure, but they can sell the content many times for one upfront investment.

Unless demand goes down.

Up to what?

So the author instead wants everything to go through Netflix and Spotify? Why would Disney care? Their product practically prints money for them. Unlike Netflix, Disney doesn't need to constantly make fresh content for new subscribers. It makes business sense to just park it into a service and let the money roll in. That's what they do with their "vault." The real question will be how much it costs for a subscription.

People are honestly okay with fragmentation. It's the cost they mind. But even then families are 100% shelling out for that sweet sweet Disney content.

But people aren't gonna pay $10 or even $5 every month for a disney-only streaming subscription, if disney doesn't put out new content for it. It's way cheaper to just buy your favorite disney shows & movies. Disney is more established in producing fresh content for their subscribers - cause they're a studio - but that's a different question.

Disney makes a lot of content. You might think of Disney as Disney animation studios, but the company makes a lot of stuff.


That doesn't even count Marvel, and LucasFilm, etc, etc. That's more than 1 feature film released every month, and then all the TV content... $5 a month wouldn't be unreasonable, especially if you have kids.

>But people aren't gonna pay $10 or even $5 every month for a disney-only streaming subscription, if disney doesn't put out new content for it.

Oh yes they are. Disney owns a ton of properties, and the ability to have exclusive streaming rights over timeless classics is worth a lot.

Kids love to watch the same movie over and over again. They love predictability.


Over and over and over. Really enjoy seeing them gain new insights of same film every dozen viewings or so (light sarcasm, mostly truth).

I don't think that's true, I bet at Disney's size and the sheer number of franchises they own they could continue to just put out movies and shows at the same rate they do now and keep them exclusive to the the Disney service. Their back catalog is enormous- we're talking Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar all under the same umbrella as the Lion King. If any company could go at it alone on the strength of their portfolio it's Disney.

Also all the sports games via ESPN.

I thought this at first too, but the viewing habits of children are different. Some kids literally watch the same thing every day, for weeks or months. The convenience of being able to give them the iPad to calm them down at dinner with their favorite movie is probably worth $15 or so per month to plenty of families. Sure you can pirate it for free, but you're really paying for convenience. Piracy is a service problem, and right now playing DVDs isn't the best experience available.

But Disney do produce a lot of content all the time. Enough that they have several TV-channels that arguably cost more than Netflix to get access to. And this is just for the cartoon kids stuff.

There's a very simple solution for anyone worried about fragmentation: don't buy it.

We got into a bad situation with cable because we didn't have a choice. It was either pay $80 per month for everything, or not watch TV at all.

We have choices now, and Disney isn't going to be able to force their service on anyone. If people really like their new products and think it's worth the money, then fine. If people hate having to pay them separately and no one signs up, then they'll shut it down and go back to how it is now. Consumers have a lot of power now, and whatever happens will likely be in their interests.

I personally would be willing to pay a good bit of money to have access to the full back catalog of films from all the major studios. The streaming services' catalogs are very limited, and I'm often in the mood to watch one particular movie that isn't available. Spotify has nearly every song I ever want to listen to. Nothing exists like that for movies.

I agree on all accounts, however, movies aren't really comparable to music. An episode of a show costs a ton more than a song to make (typically vs typically, there are cheap shows and expensive songs, sure). A movie costs a lot more than an album to produce. http://mentalfloss.com/article/57656/15-albums-cost-fortune-... has an album costing $15m to produce which was a huge outlier. Most expensive albums are in the $1-$2mm range. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_films has the most expensive films above $300mm a pop. That's two orders of magnitude, and granted there are way fewer movies than albums (I think), a Spotify for movies with tons of back catalogue coverage would probably need to cost $100-$1000/month to make it worth it to the studios.

Actually, $150 a month to legally watch almost anything ever made would be a fairly appealing option. Good luck getting even a few studios on board, though. Pricing in future expected rev into it, it'd probably need to be closer to the $1k/month mark to make it worth it. It'll never happen.

I agree. Additionally, I'm not going to watch the same movie everyday for weeks or months at a time like I do with an album. Renting movies from Amazon/iTunes/Vudu is probably the optimal solution in my case. It's strange how this was the norm in the pre-Netflix days, and now, the idea of paying a la carte makes us feel like we're wasting money. Maybe we need an Audible model where we get ~6 movies a month for a flat fee and discounts after that. I don't know what to do with television content.

I already buy netflix and Spotify. There is zero chance I'll buy another service. If it's not in either of these and i absolutely must consume it (unlikely) then I'll get it somewhere for free. No way I'll buy another service. With av content netflix already offers more than i have time to watch. Music is different in that i still pass mixtapes (digital versions) around but there is little chance you'd find any of that content anywhere (except maybe soundcloud before it died)

> There's a very simple solution for anyone worried about fragmentation: don't buy it.

I'm not exactly sure what the flaw in this reasoning is called - tragedy of the commons comes to mind but that's not it; it's more like a prisoner's dilemma over a population - but if you're somehow not aware of this by now, this "solution" does nothing in the real world.

It's the same "solution" that is supposed to ensure bad politicians, bad companies, and so on do not take or keep power. "Just boycott X. Just don't vote for Y." There are more than enough people in the given population that trying to influence the landscape by trying to "rally the people!" to make the best decision for the whole rather than the simple or convenient one for themselves fails, literally every time.

Honestly, if you don't already know that, I don't know what rock you've been living under, but it must be comfortable under there.

I get what you're saying. It is a prisoner's dilemma. Tragedy of the commons is also a form of prisoner's dilemma.

It won't take an organized effort to reach an equilibrium where consumers benefit. People's incentives aren't to defect and pay the money for the additional services. They're much more likely to just not watch Disney's products, or torrent them. Disney could've very easily have just not licensed their content to Netflix and made everyone buy their DVDs, but they didn't because no one buys DVDs anymore--they watch Netflix. They're banking on the notion that their content is so good that people will pay extra for it. If their content really is that good, then maybe people should pay extra for it. In that case they'll still be paying less than what it's actually worth to them. If not, then they won't. People can watch other stuff, or Disney will abandon the project.

You're assuming the companies will rationally respond to the market pressure. They'll probably just go broke instead. Media companies often seem happy to deny the realities of the market when it comes to licensing and distribution.

These "bloated" packages exist specifically to force you into buying more than you need. It's a standard monopoly pricing technique, and the presence of bundled packages indicates monopoly power in the market.

i am not sure that it is directly tied to monopoly. paying for a subscription reduces friction for watching individual shows/channels so it increased total viewership and total consumption. every pay point you add adds more friction so will reduce consumption. that is true whether you have monopolies or not. you could have 5 competitors and they would all maximize profit by selling bundles.

If this segmentation continues, it'll be interesting to see how streaming devices adapt. Requiring a separate app for each content provider is a pain and makes browsing for content much less pleasant, especially when interfaces differ amongst apps.

I think it'd be ideal to have a single app to access content. Users would purchase their desired networks from within this app and would have a unified viewing experience.

This exists. On the Apple TV it's called the "TV" app. I'm sure other devices have something similar. On my Apple TV I see all the shows and movies I'm watching on HBO Now, Showtime, iTunes, and most other services in one spot. Netflix is the only holdout I've run into, and it pisses me off, but that's their prerogative I guess.

I have a question to US people, when you say "cord cutter" - what exactly do you mean? Because you still need to pay for internet to the same cable company, and the price is only 5-10% cheaper compared to the same plan with cable box? Am I not understanding it correctly?

The cable company here in Minneapolis is Comcast (the number 1 hated company in America year after year), which I can avoid by going through CenturyLink (the phone company). Thus I deprive Comcast of their revenues and don't pay ESPN a nickel. All I watch is Amazon Prime.

My Internet is $30 / mo. Comcast Internet & TV is $49 per month for 12 mo (a teaser rate), their real rates seem to be $120 or $150, plus they steal your time by signing you up for stuff you don't want. Search for "comcast signed me up for didn't order"

Minor update: I'm looking forward to Elon's satellite based Internet system. So I might go with that in the future.

If you're just doing it for web/streaming video, it'll be fine. If you do any gaming or videoconferencing, the latency on satellite puts a real damper on the "feel" of the connection.

Musk claims to have improved satellite latency by a factor of 52, from 1300 ms to 25 ms. So maybe the issues will be resolved.

I think gp is talking about DSL, not satellite internet.

"Cord-cutting" means getting rid of cable TV. Yes, ISPs are often also cable providers, but more and more consumers are choosing only an Internet connection. They are "cutting" their cable cord. The money still goes to cable companies but it is often significantly less with only the Internet. Cable companies are attempting to bundle Internet and cable TV into packages and hiding their prices, but more and more are simply ignoring TV packages altogether.

The "cord cutter" term is a little odd because you're still probably buying internet from the cable company; you're just not buying their video services.

When I first signed up for cable, Charter Spectrum had me on a promotional plan - 130/5 internet and extended basic cable (essentially everything but HBO/Cinemax/Starz/Encore), for around $110/month.

This was a 1-year promotional price offered only to new customers. After 12 months, it went up to $65/month for the internet and an additional $90/month for the TV. I chose instead to sign up for DirecTV Now streaming, because even at buying a "bundle" of channels, it was significantly cheaper at $35/month vs the cable company's offering.

I am paying $120 for 300mbps internet + TV + phone and some soccer sport pass right now, I just contacted Charter (who bought TWC here) to ask how much just the internet would cost me, and they told me it is going to cost $105 just for the internet. So by "cord cutting" I actually only hurting myself here, no?

Technically you're saving 15 dollars a month, so it's not really "hurting" per se.

I am assuming that he is implying that if he cord cut, he would have to spend more than 15$/ month in subscription fees. That seems like a much more reasonable interpretation than assuming he doesn't know that 120 > 105

If Charter is anything like Comcast, by not going through them for my cable I save monthly:

$50 - 5 additional cable box rentals

$10 - "HD Technology Fee"

$5 -- Broadcast access fee

$3 -- Regional Sorts Fee

That's $68 I avoid by using Hulu + Sling + CBS All Access. We have 6 TVs, 3 Roku sticks, a Roku TV, and 3 Apple TV's.

Out of curiosity, what are you doing with 6 TVs? Even when I lived with my parents we only had two.

You need a TV in every room so you're never left alone with your thoughts.

What do you find so strange about it? Even growing up in 70s and 80s, my parents had three televisions. It's not like TVs are luxury items. We had one in my room, one in their room and one in the family room. Now, they have five -- two additional TVs one in my dad's "man cave" and one in my moms office.

TVs last forever or at least they did back in the CRT era. My Dad's TV is one I bought in 1996 when I first graduated from college. All of their TVs are CRTs.

Even all of ours were less than $400 bought over the course of 7 years.

Since you asked, it's not about cost. I've never owned a television, so I find the whole thing quite bizarre. Whenever I see how friends and family use their TVs in their houses and what plays on them, it redoubles my desire to never own one. I don't mean to be that guy, and it's not like I don't squander my time on trivia pursuits (I'm on HN, after all). But the quality is just so bad, and the ads so obnoxious. Maybe you don't notice if you're accustomed to it?

I know that in the last 10-15 years there have been a handful of great shows. Real works of art. But a house doesn't need more than one TV for such intentional viewing. Surrounding yourself with TVs flabergasts me.

But I don't think you're strange. You're normal; I know I'm the strange one.

96% of households have TVs (http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2016/nielsen-esti...)

As far as ads. Neither Netflix, Starz, Hulu or CBS All Access (the on demand part) have ads -- for CBS and Hulu I pay for the no ads subscription. Because of a quirk in the way that channels work in Plex, I don't even see ads on the Plex channels.

As far as what a house needs, people would also say a family of three doesn't need a 5 bedroom house in the burbs, could exercise outside instead of turning one room into a gym, my son could use the one tv to play his PlayStation instead of having his own TV, doesn't need gigabit internet and every room wired with a gigabit connection, etc.

But honestly life isn't always about needs. If we decide that we don't want to compromise between three people in what we want to watch or where we want to watch it, what's the big deal?

No big deal. I'm glad your family is happy.

Owner's suite

son's room

home gym

wife's sitting area

Family room

Guest bedroom

Gotcha. We didn't have TVs in bedrooms in my parents' house, which is what I figure our TV deficit stems from.

And the TV in the gym serves as a glorified set of speakers most of the time using AirPlay listening to podcast while I'm running.

you should also probably itemize the cost of each of those hardware peripherals.

The hardware peripherals are one time costs not monthly. But Roku sticks are $60 each and the AppleTV's (third gen) were $59.

Yes. The details will vary--and I've been meaning to look into what my options are--but you probably won't save nearly as much by switching away from Triple-play type deals to straight Internet as you might assume.

Are you paying for a DVR? Verizon and Commcast charge about $15/month per TV.

Nope, don't have a DVR

A few notes:

* "First X months" deals are everywhere in home internet access. Buying TV and internet together is usually only slightly more expensive than internet alone for the first 12 months. After that, I'm guessing they hope you've become dependent on it or forget your prices went up.

* I think "cord cutting" generally meant eliminating the cable plugin to the TV. Sure, a cable still goes to your modem, but if you had cable internet, you're still eliminating one cord... now your TV is solely fed by Roku/AppleTV/etc rather than that plus traditional cable.

It was just a way to communicate getting rid of something - cable TV - which many Americans equated with having success in life and/or prosperity.

> Buying TV and internet together is usually only slightly more expensive than internet alone for the first 12 months.

It's even worse than that, Comcast won't even sell me their top tier internet without TV and the next tier down is only $10 cheaper but less than half the bandwidth.

So I'm paying for cable that I have nowhere to plug into because I don't own a TV anyway.

> So I'm paying for cable that I have nowhere to plug into because I don't own a TV anyway.

But you can watch all the channels online using their channel websites or phone apps if you want to. They ask your cable subscription login to verify.

Varies by region. My ISP is not a cable company* and about half as expensive (for 150mbps symmetrical) as the competition.

* They do offer packages with TV but those are provided by some other company.

I actually pay for YouTube TV even though the price to add cable to my plan would be about the same price. The difference is I get better channels (sports!), DVR, multi-room support, and streaming anywhere outside the house. If I wanted any of those features from my cable company, I'd be paying over double what I pay now.

The solution is, of course, for Netflix to open up to pricing differentiation. There is no reason for HBO Now to be offered outside of Netflix other than haggling over pricing.

What's wrong with Netflix rising above the rabble and focusing instead on providing excellent user experiences and rock-solid world-class reliability?

Just put in a checkbox somewhere that, when checked, added HBO for $X/month. Boom, it's opt-in and a-la-carte, the holy grail desired by cord-cutters everywhere.

At this point it's only Netflix's fault that the content owners are running away and it's within their capability to remedy the situation while keeping everybody happy. Let the children have their candy!

Amazon is already doing this; if you have Prime, you can add on subscriptions to HBO, Starz, Cinemax, and a bunch of other channels for a monthly fee.

Amazon would crush Netflix if they would just build a good UX for their streaming. We have both Prime and Netflix and literally the only reason we don't cancel Netflix is because browsing the available content on Amazon is just painful in comparison.

So is Hulu. Showtime + HBO for now.

To be honest, I think catchall solutions work best. I'm more likely to pay for content, if I can just pay 1 or 2 places.

When I heard that Disney was leaving Netflix, I'm not inclined to sign up to Disney as well. To be honest, unless they give me a unique value proposition (like having their feature films available on site weeks after theatrical release) I'm unlikely to want to fork out extra bucks for the one studio.

If they give me something that is a better experience than the competition, I'll throw my money at them. Other than that, meh

Disney's deal with Netflix was estimated to have netted them $300M (per year, I'm guessing, but I'm not sure), and Netflix is estimated to have 100M users. Assume that Disney would only take home half their revenues from running their own streaming service. That puts their financial break-even point at 300M / (5*12) = 5 million people signing up.

5 million US families attracted to this as an easy way to keep their kids entertained? Doesn't seem a huge stretch to me.

Assuming you don’t have a 4 year old that collects over surprisingly deep conversations about motivations of random minor characters in animated Disney films?

There's possibly some opportunity that, if you really don't want any real-time sports, you could possibly save some money by stripping that from subscription offerings. But fantasies that removing the Home and Garden Channel from bundles reduces the monthly bill are just fantasies.

In some respects, fragmentation is a mental overhead. But that's going to be the reality and the end result isn't going to be any cheaper for anyone who really cares about getting access to anything they want to watch.

ESPN accounts for a huge percentage of most monthly cable bill cost. I never watch live sports, nor do a pretty good percentage of cable subscribers. Just cutting ESPN could reduce cable bills by a third to a half in a lot of markets. This is why ESPN is suffering financially as cord cutting increases.

The cost for ESPN is something like $8-$9 per month so a lot but not the overwhelming cost of a cable TV bill. I also think you overestimate the number of people willing to totally give up being able to watch sports. I know I watch very little but I hesitate to totally cut the cord.

In some markets, ESPN and other sports channels accounts for as much as $20 per month of the standard cable bill, and those costs are rising. [1]

And I don't think I'm overestimating the number of people willing to give up paying for sports on cable. It's somewhere between 57% and 80% of cable subscribers. [2]

That's a giant subsidy for an entertainment industry based on watching adults play children's games. Of course, if you're a sportsman, you won't see it that way, but if you're not, it may create a different reaction.

[1] http://time.com/money/4590614/cable-bill-sports-cord-cutting...

[2] "This is the heart of the Sports Cable Bubble: Tens of millions of pay television viewers spending what Thompson estimates is at least $100 a year on sports programming they have no intention of ever watching, pumping billions into games enjoyed by others, enriching networks, leagues, teams and athletes all the while. (The exact number of non-sports fans is difficult to peg: A recent Harris Interactive poll found that 43 percent of Americans won't cancel cable and satellite television simply because of live sports, which also suggests that the majority of the country could be perfectly happy not paying for ESPN; industry analyst David Bank told Bloomberg Businessweek that 80 percent of basic-cable customers would decline to pay for sports if given a choice; Forbes writer Alan McGlade figures that no more than 10 million homes are regular ESPN viewers, about 10 percent of the total pay TV market.)" --from http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/53498716/

Note though that ESPN != watching live sports. A lot of, especially local team, games are on regular network channels. And it's their local team games that most relatively casual sports watchers really care about.

I actually don't watch much sports at all. But I hesitate to give up all access to real-time television. (I can't get anything OTA.)

Right, and regular network channels don't cost as much as ESPN and Fox Sports (for example), and also offer a variety of programming.

I just moved to a place where I can get gigabit fiber and spent a lot of time looking into how I want to get TV. So far the cord-cutting options that look most compelling to me are Hulu Live TV (Beta) and YouTube TV (sadly not available in my area yet).

Things I care about are: ability to watch live TV, access to the major TV networks, ability to DVR, ability to watch things from other devices (like "I'm traveling but want to watch my DVR'd program).

Sling was looking good but doesn't include the major networks and only some of its channels can be DVR'd.

I thought about using an HD antenna and getting a hardware DVR like a Tivo or Channel Master DVR+, but then you can only DVR the major networks. If you try to supplement that with Sling, you're back to the same problem that only some things can be DVR'd. Also the hardware DVRs don't generally let you watch remotely, and the ones that do aren't as good at live TV.

Hulu Live TV seems good so far. You get access to live TV and DVR and you can watch from anywhere. But it also gives you access to its existing streaming library, so you have access to a lot of shows even if you didn't think to DVR them before they happened. At $40/month it seems like a pretty good deal (that gives you 50 hours of DVR). It's $44 to have "No Commercials" (this removes commercials from the streaming content I believe). If you want to skip past commercials in content you have DVR'd, you need to pay an extra $15/month, which seems kind of lame.

I wish I could try YouTube TV but it's not available in Seattle yet!

Checkout Playstaion Vue

I just signed up for HBO Now. The streaming does not work as good as Netflix. Neither do the browse/search features. It would be nice to have a streaming platform that just worked, and was a marketplace for all the content providers. I couldn't even sign up for HBO now via webpage, I had to download their app, just to sign up. Terrible UI. Terrible platform, but its the only option to watch their content [legally].

Having multiple streaming providers will lead to more original content since streaming infrastructure alone is not defensibility.

Hopefully each streaming provider will share older seasons similar to how Netflix has acquired content currently.

I have Amazon, HBO, Netflix, and YouTube Red. I am happier than when I had a cable package - there is much more content I want to watch.

This isn't a very good article. The analysis of the issue is very shallow and the author is stating the obvious: 'It would be easier for users if everything can be found on one service that costs $10/month' and 'more publishers are getting into their own streaming business and that is the opposite'. Yes, thank you, we are all quite aware of that.

That being said I am surprised by the comments here. Quite a few people seem to be arguing FOR a situation where lots of content leaves bigger providers so that it can be hosted in separate streaming services like Disney is now doing. Why? Are you all just being recalcitrant or am I to believe that you'd prefer paying (3 * $10)/month for a decent content coverage (assuming 3 different providers) instead of just $10/month? .

Another strange 'opinion' that is being shared here is that it would be better to pay only for the things you want to watch. a. This has been around for quite a while already, so it is unclear to me why this is being brought up as something that Netflix should do suddenly and b. I don't see how this would be an alternative to someone who is happily paying Netflix's ~$10/month. I myself find that a big value that Netflix has for me is the complete library of movies, series and stand-up they have and that I can freely watch anything they offer without having to pay for individual viewing sessions. I, for example, often put on something I have already seen or some stand-up while doing chores around the house. I would never do this if I had to pay for this content on top of what I would already be paying for the things that I actively watch.

Apart from the practical implications of pay-per-view in my example I also think that the quality of the content would suffer. Right now it is very easy for me to watch some experimental content on Netflix. Some Netflix originals are not your typical series or film and I quite enjoy the more different content as an addition to the more popular series. If people will have to start picking the things they want to watch and pay for every view these series will not get watched at all and therefore not be made at all. The advantage that Netflix has is that they try to persuade people to come to them for a variety of content that is interesting and unique to Netflix. This is how they grow and retain their user base. If you get rid of this model and start asking people to pay-per-view there would be no reason for them to keep making their own unique content anymore as you'd choose your provider on a view per view basis.

There is a nice French service that is trying to regroup most french channels : molotov.tv But for me the nicest is the concept of their application that I use on Apple TV, the way they do replay, link to other shows on replay on the same channel... record your shows on the cloud...That's a nice evolution of streaming... Now, if something like that would exist in the US that would be a killer app!

Studios used to run their own theaters and that vertical integration was found to be uncompetitive. What is the rationale that doesn't apply here?

It's going to be more expensive than cable since you have to Internet(many of which providers are monopolies in the us) and pay 10 usd a month per various premium channel access.

Unless people just stop consuming media, and regain financial leverage.

The bundling model whether streaming or cable is obsolete. The iTunes model of pay per episode makes much more sense - although it was much preferable when you could rent an episode for .99 rather than buy it for 2.99.

Netflix at 10$ is severely underpriced relative to any competition. I've been curious just what their next move is.

Slowly bump prices. It's going up by $1 ($2 for the high tier) in Canada this month, I hear.

Though whether that's an active bump depends on whether the price hikes beat out inflation over the long term.

So simple it might just work. I keep expecting something more dramatic, but they seem to be the opposing dipole of Amazon.

> Don’t ruin streaming by turning it into cable

You're about a few years too late on this. Snowballs don't roll uphill.

It's capitalism. If you have a valid complaint, it can be rephrased as a business plan.

You're assuming an efficient market, when many deficits of market economics are already well-known. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_failure

The information economy has fixed some of those, but it would be more surprising if there weren't new types of deficits to take their place.

This alleged assumption that in fact I did not make would contradict the principle above. If the market were always and everywhere at every instant of time efficiently allocated, there would be no valid complaints.

My point here is that, even if a business plan could be written for every complaint, the business plan produced isn't necessarily viable or actionable, e.g. if there's a monopoly in that particular industry. Usually the word 'plan' implies that there's a reasonable chance of success, hence my disagreement.

Don't ruin the Internet by turning it into streaming.

I remember how people on the internet used to complain about how they didn’t want all of the garbage channels that were bundled with cable. Now they are complaining about being able to pick and choose what they pay for. (Yes you don’t need to have access to every subscription service)

Two things to note, pirates will always find some way to rationalize their theft and the consumer is a child that wants to have their cake and eat it too.

The problem with the cable bundles is they bundled maybe one thing/channel you want with a bunch of crap you don't to bulk it out and make it seem worth it. Honestly I'm happy to pay for the different 'bundles' like Netflix, prime and hbo (and Disney if I had kids). But I want it under one service, with the ability to pay a one-off fee to watch something I'm not subscribed to. At the moment the fragmentation is crazy, and Netflix wins so if it's not there I'll rarely go looking on Amazon to see if they have it, even though I pay for that service. I really think there is a good opportunity for someone to unify these services, but it probably has to come from inside the industry. Hopefully in a few years when they realise that less friction will win in the long run

This aggregation of services is what Apple is doing with their TV app. And with iOS 11 the major providers will be in on SSO.

A good consumer will always want to have their cake and eat it too: that isn't childish. A consumer's expectation that it will always pan out that way is the point of naiveté.

Copyright infringement isn't theft.

word. unlicensed content delivery platforms still vastly superior in terms of quality and depth of content after over a decade and billions spent by netflix, hulu, etc. if you really want people to pay for a product you should offer better quality than the people who give it away.

The quality may be better, but can you stream pirated content on, say, an iPad app or on a pre-installed TV app? Netflix and other legal providers seem to have a real value proposition versus illegal providers, but I'll admit it's been several years since I've taken any interest in piracy.

Yes, you can easily stream your owned multimedia content to basically any device.



controlled walled gardens = "value proposition"

Thank you for proving my point

How can you know that hyperdunc is a "pirate"? How can you know that hyperdunc advocates for further "piracy"? His argument is that there is a word for copyright infringement and the word clearly isn't theft or piracy.

A sentinent like "pirates will always find a way to rationalize theft" is unreasonably dismissive and perhaps shaped to protect an ideological position.

This is a question of semantics. You're trying to coopt the gravitas of the word "theft". But theft is the illegal removal of a (physical) item, not copying an item while leaving the original as it is.

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