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Streaming Video Will Soon Look Like the Bad Old Days of TV (nytimes.com)
145 points by jmsflknr 54 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 212 comments

For me this future has already arrived. Yesterday I cancelled Netflix because I realized that even if I pay money each month for legal content, I still have to pirate the content that is not on Netflix. Asking people to subscribe to multiple streaming services is not just expensive but also crazy inconvenient.

By contrast the music industry manages to cooperate and get their content available across the various streaming services and consequently I haven't pirated music for a long long time.

And Plex is just getting better and better:

- Netflix-like UI with integrated IMDB ratings, cast, description, cover, etc

- support for many devices and TV players/dongles

- unlimited concurrent stream count and full control over the streaming bitrate (as long as you have the bandwidth)

- remote access from any location/country

I've been using Plex for probably 5 years now and it's the best (only?) software I know of for its purpose, but I haven't seen it "getting better and better" as you say. From my perspective it's had more or less the same useful functionality since I started using it, and my biggest annoyances with it -- the overall flakiness of the apps, syncing, and Chromecast integration, as compared with Netflix -- haven't gotten any better.

But I'm still really glad it exists and don't really feel I have much right to complain about a free (for me) product.

(Edit: okay, to give credit where it's due, I just remembered they did actually fix my biggest annoyance with the iOS app -- previously when you deleted a downloaded video it didn't actually delete it from disk -- there was no way to recover the storage, other than deleting the app itself. So I'd have to reinstall the app every time I took a flight more or less. But they fixed that, you can actually delete things now.)

I have never heard of mrmc or infuse, but aren't they (along with Kodi) essentially just media _players_? And as much as I want to use jellyfin, it's not exactly ready on the platforms I want to use it for (although it's in the works). That leaves Emby, which doesn't have nearly the polish (although I just switched to it and an very happy with it). Not exactly a huge selection of choices...

Kodi is definitely more than a player, it's a full media library. If it doesn't do what you want out of the box (and it mostly does, categorising and metadata etc.), then plugins can handle the rest.

I've tested and used all of these. Emby was a slightly different Plex with several weakneses and some strengths. It was free, now its fremium like Plex. None of the others have native applications for both android and iOS. Infuse is nice if you have an all iOS ecosystem.

update - Kodi has an iOS application if you have a jailbroken an iPhone with iOS 8.

I've been using Plex for a good 3 or 4 years now, and have upgraded through a good half dozen or so version upgrades. What disappointed me the most is that their support for subtitles has gotten progressively worse over time. I did all the tricks to try and make subtitles work, whether embedded or not, but in the end I found it easier just to navigate to the folder on my NAS and open the .mkv in VLC, which recognises embedded subtitles no problem!

I used mediatomb ages ago, and now Kodi (formerly XBMC). Works great.

Yes, and that's the main reason I use Plex nowadays. I mostly stopped using it as virtually everything I want to watch is on legal streaming services in the UK. However even when content is available, on some services the UX is so awful I'm driven to download it elsewhere. For example, even though Handmaid's Tale is available on All4 in the UK, their app and player are so awful it was easier to go through the rigmarole of illegal downloads so I can use Plex instead.

The Netflix UI is atrocious. It feeds the same content in a loop. I never seem to find anything and much prefer HBO Go's UI wich reverse sorts content by date.

On my new Samsung tv, the Netflix app also has a SUPER annoying auto play trailer feature THAT YOU CANNOT DISABLE. I am just trying to scroll through the list and literally everything I stop on immediately starts playing audio/video content. Absolutely horrible design that has greatly diminished my experience to the point where I almost don't want to use it anymore. The only way I've managed to cope is to keep the TV muted until I actually select something and try to avoid looking at the video preview that often contains spoilers.

there has not been a single time when "watch again" was useful to me, why is that even there?

Sadly, the UI seems designed to force you watch Netflix content, and hide the fact the catalog is small (is it? I can't tell).

It's the number one reason I'm going to drop netflix, when I get too fed up.

Children live to watch the same shows multiple times.

indeed, but they have a "kids" account for that :)

I actually get the impression that the catalog IS small from the current Netflix UI.

HBO go on anything but a PC is painful to use. Continue watching is completely broken on the xbox app. The whole thing feels like it's 10 years old with all the mistakes and clunkiness. Instead of a nice xbox native keyboard popup to search, you literally scroll through the entire alphabet and it's barely responsive.

The HBO Go app is buggy but the UI is better, despite feeling older IMHO. On Apple devices is works okay save for some old iPad where it fails randomly.

Is it only me but Plex never worked stably on tvOS. The transcoding stops every 20 minutes and the movie freeze, forcing me to restart it. I suspect it's only with the mkv container and when using subtitles... Besides that, it forces you to transcode, and you need to subscribe to have native decoding. I use Plex for many years, even wrote and published plug-ins for it, but I could never convince me to subscribe. There are too many quirks that make me think let's wait until it works...

According to one of Jaron Lanier's books, the 'musician as a middle class job' has pretty much vanished because of all the piracy and streaming services. Plex is wonderful, but its nice that people can make a good living making the content too.

I'm going to have to agree with the other people who have commented so far. Music has never really been a middle class job. But I'm going to disagree with the entire premise that streaming and piracy have killed the middle class musician. I'm going to argue that streaming and piracy created the middle class musician.

Are there people living middle class lives in the music industry? Sure. Probably more today than ever before, and streaming (and possibly piracy) has a lot to do with that. Musicians don't make money from album sales, they make money from live shows. The middle class musician tours constantly because that's their full time job. It's not a 9-5, and you're not home with your family at night. I'm absolutely positive that this is the reason more people don't live middle class musician lifestyles.

Vanished? Nah. Never existed, at least not in any significant way. It's only now due to the Internet that small time niche musicians can make any money and get any sales without major labels. And major labels aren't in the business of making middle class musicians, as Jaron Lanier pointed out.

I'm also going to detour to your source... Jaron Lanier is famous for writing the story "Piracy is your friend", and a few years later writing "Pay me for my content". I would take Jaron Lanier's music industry opinions with a grain of salt.

Define significant. Session musicians were definitely a thing that earned a middle-class lifestyle during the last century, at least in larger markets. Of course, samplers and sample libraries likely had a larger impact on reducing the viability of that lifestyle (no need to hire everyone necessary for the string section on these three tracks when Kontakt and the one intern who knows his way around automating expressions will do), but shrinking studio budgets due to the impact of piracy helped put the nail in the coffin.

Is there actual data on this? I did not think the tail of professional musicians was ever fat enough to support a sizeable middle class. Mostly just a handful of megastars (who today are indeed capturing a smaller fraction of the value they create) and a large population of struggling musicians that have always supported themselves through other means.

He says he 'went looking for them.' I dug around a bit and there's not a lot of really concrete numbers. Here's what I found:

> Since 2000, the number of full-time songwriters in Nashville has fallen by 80 percent, according to the Nashville Songwriters Association International


> According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 39,260 people in the United States classified as “Musicians and Singers.” This is down 27% from 53,940 in 2002.


> At the same time, consumers spent less money on recorded music (both physically and digitally distributed) than they had in the 1990s.[13] Total "music-business" revenues in the U.S. dropped by half, from a high of $14.6 billion in 1999 to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research.[14]


> For many musicians, the income derived from sound recordings is a small part of their overall revenue pie, and it’s decreasing. In aggregate, 88% of survey respondents derived between 0% and 10% of their music-related income from sound recordings in the past 12 months. Respondents who identified themselves as composers and/or recording artists were making a bit more, as were rock and hip hop musicians, but even when examined through various lenses like role or genre, income from sound recordings hovered under 15% of music-related income. Though differences exist by role and/or genre, the survey data suggests that income from sound recordings is a modest slice of most musicians’ income pies – a sentiment also expressed by a number of interviewees.


also relevant for the TV industry:

> According to the Writers Guild Association – West, screenwriters’ earnings were down nearly 25 percent in 2013 from 2009.


Thanks! The first quote is indeed a useful bit of evidence. the second one doesn't help us distinguish from the alternative hypothesis where almost all musician income is collected by a very small number of very wealthy people, with few middle class people in the first place.

It was interesting trying to find reliable stats on this. I might look into it more one day in the future

Music, along with other creative endeavors, is primarily a recreational pursuit. It's not socially necessary labor. A century of paying for the physical media necessary to transmit worthless (in a non-perjorative sense) ideas tricked many of us into thinking we were buying music itself. The true value of art reveals itself when these media are removed from the equation.

It's a net good for culture in the grand scheme of things. I'm hoping most professions eventually vanish along with musicians, including my own.

Music is like writing: the tools to create and distribute it have such low barriers to entry now that any sufficiently talented person can compete with the best in the industry.

Film isn't there yet. A solo director can't produce a Marvel movie on their own. But it's becoming easier every day.

Most musicians make their bread on tour or gigging.

Most musicians tour? Hmm. I don't have stats, but I doubt 95%+ of musicians ever tour, or hardly ever. The vast majority of musicians I know (musician here) pay their bills, support their kids etc by regular teaching, supplemented by gigs. Virtually all gigs are very low-paying compared to a few decades ago. A bass player friend told me that in a big city music venue, in the 1980s he was making 10x what the bar staff were; now they get paid more per hour.

> Yesterday I cancelled Netflix because I realized that even if I pay money each month for legal content, I still have to pirate the content that is not on Netflix.

It sounds like you're saying that if there's any video you'd like to see that's not available on Netflix, you have no alternative to pirating it.

What would be the fallout if you didn't pirate those videos?

The choice is not between Netflix and piracy. I can't speak for the original poster, but for me Netflix' appeal was that I had a wide selection of content available for a single price in a single subscription, making it an attractive competitor to buying and/or renting single movies and series. With the fragmentation of the streaming landscape they have lost that competitive edge, and if it wasn't for the Netflix-exclusive series that justify the monthly price for me, I would probably have cancelled too.

A streaming service is attractive when the monthly cost is less than what you would pay for the seperate content you actually watch, and if all the content you want is offered on that service. Needing to subscribe to multiple services can quickly balloon the cost and inconvencience to the point where it's easier and cheaper to just seek out individual content - either legally or illegally, the result is the same for Netflix.

Personally, I have no qualms avoiding paying 3.99 or whatever to rent a digital file that made its money back thrice over before it left theaters.

“You wouldn’t download a car” arguments aside - what is the ethical boundary for “They’ve made enough money - I’m entitled to enjoy it for free” ?

I agree, that's the kernel of the issue here.

TL;DR: I'm curious if there's a way to make effective ethical arguments when people have fundamentally different world views, including whether or not morals have any solid grounding.

You can judge a moral system by how society would evolve if everyone followed it.

If nobody pirated anything then we would still be buying music for 99 cents a track (or more) and music streaming would have been quashed by the labels.

On the other hand if everybody pirated everything then the music industry would have collapsed.

I conclude that the world needs all sorts of people.

I don't pirate anything, but maybe one reason people do is that getting things spoiled before you watch it can be a serious problem.

> Yesterday I cancelled Netflix because I realized that even if I pay money each month for legal content, I still have to pirate the content that is not on Netflix.

I canceled Netflix because it got to having nothing I wanted to watch, and my public library network has a much better catalog of movies and TV series on Blu-ray and DVD.

My public library even has video streaming for tons of titles

It's more like record labels aren't vertically integrated. Sony used to be, but piracy and the iPod made that less relevant just as streaming became viable. I'm an ex-Spotifier. The story we got was that piracy had disrupted the music industry so much it brought the majors to the bargaining table. This is completely different than the state of movies and TV shows.

Netflix back-doored and and muscled its way in, but it never had even close to a full catalog, so it had to compete with its own content. The other big difference is that we associate TV shows with their distributors (GoT was on HBO, House of Cards Netflix, Seinfeld NBC, etc.) Artists and labels? Unless you're looking at something indie like Fat Wreck Chords, nope, most people couldn't tell you who artists are signed to.

Which is a total shame, because those labels are the best discovery engines! If you want a great source of new content, that's effectively their full time job. The distribution and content quality of Tiny Engines, Topshelf Records, Polyvinyl is so so much better than anything Spotify will try to algorithm up for me.

(typing this while rocking my Fat Wreck jacket and playing Direct Hit!)

I can't seem to find it, but in the past year, I read an article on how cheap compilations (could have been Fat Music) were a really effective way to promote bands in that genre. Bands would talk about doing shows, and once they play the song on the compilation CD, everyone sings along.

You can still look at those releases and use spotify. No one is forcing you to look at their half baked playlists. Personally, I think the user playlists are the best part of the entire service.

I am planning to cancel Netflix depending on how good the contents on Disney Plus is and how much ads it has. I have found myself spending more time looking for things to watch in Netflix comparing to watching them. Recently, I discovered the Roku channel. It has limited selections including decent family titles, too. It has ads but is limited to 1 or 2 15-second ads that are kid-friendly (like Goldfish cracker) when I watched Rango yesterday with my daughter. It’s sad that the promising land of digital streaming platform is deteriorating to what cable has become.

It also doesn’t cost $100 million to make an album.

Who cares when the investment was recouped 3x at the box office alone. Hollywood makes money hand over fist at the box office and clammoring about lost DVD sales is clammoring about icing on the cake. Movies like infinity war make several orders of magnitude more money at the box office than home release.

> Movies like infinity war make several orders of magnitude more money at the box office than home release.

Your example is the world record at the box office... they don't all gain as much.

Plenty of movies and TV shows depends on the cash they make from streaming service. Hell it's not even yours to decide whether they made enough profit. Why not make your own movie if that so profitable? You know damn well it's not that profitable and most struggle.

Not only that, experts predict that Infinity War will be less profitable on an ROI basis than movies that generated less revenue because of actors salaries.

That’s not true. Movie studios have been making more money from non theatre sources since the 90s.

Not all movies do well at the box office, there's plenty of flops as well.

There's reason to believe that a shared catalog would be more profitable for the non-Netflix streaming services, not less. It's not like it's hard to track who watched whose IP and distribute the revenue appropriately. The current system benefits Netflix who try to convince people to watch Netflix originals and dump everything else. It's not just a competition for subscribers, it's a competition for screen time too. There's a lot of good content on the other streaming services but it's too fragmented to pay for.

Being a third party distributor for other people’s content has never been profitable. Look no further than money losing Spotify. No company wants to be completely dependent on the whims of its suppliers.

Selling third party commodity digital content is a feature not a product. Apple always said that they use to basically just break even on iTunes music.

I wonder where the idea that Netflix (streaming) should or used to have everything came from.

In the DVD-by-mail days it really did. Even obscure movies made in communist East Germany! Maybe it still does (I like most people who were early Netflix customers, haven't subscribed to the DVD option in nearly a decade).

Friend worked in operations in those days and explained to me how they had 3 levels of storage including "deep" storage. Parallels to data warehousing.

I'm glad I watched my bucket list of movies from Netflix before they shrank the DVD selection. It seems worse now than that of the local public library.

it came from the concept that they sought to replace : in-person rental companies.

Blockbuster didn't only stock Paramount pictures -- and people wouldn't have had much patience for rental groups that worked that way when there were alternatives that didn't -- piracy being the alternative here.

It's well past time for there to be a mechanical license for streaming copyrighted video content. This lock down garbage is just that. Copyright is a joke that provides zero benefit to the public, little benefit to the starving artist, and almost all the benefit to the mega corporations. Sonny Bono is a plague on creativity and his law was even worse.

> Blockbuster didn't only stock Paramount pictures

Keep in mind the this was only because of some monopoly busting decades earlier: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Paramount_Pic....

With Disney owning so much of the production and now entering the distribution/retail side there might be some more anti-trust cases coming.

If the govt was going to nail Disney for anti-trust they wouldn't have let them buy Fox. Disney + was being talked about before the deal was approved.

Blockbuster could stock anything it wanted without the studio’s blessing by just buying DVDs at retail (even though they had special deals with the studio to get reduced prices).

Netflix can only stream what they are allowed to. If you want the convenience of the Blockbuster model there are always rentals from Amazon, Apple, Google Play etc. Yes I realize that some movies aren’t available for rent.

you're right. netflix never had a comprehensive selection of movies or tv to stream. it seems to have even less now, which must be disappointing for subscribers (I canceled my subscription years ago so I'm just going off what I hear).

they used to (and still do AFAIK) have a pretty good selection of DVDs to have mailed though. I think people hoped that eventually the streaming offerings would come to be as broad as the mail-order selection, which doesn't seem unreasonable from the perspective of 2009 but obviously isn't happening today. there's also the fact that music streaming services have mostly succeeded at offering a very wide selection of music to their customers (even free accounts!).

frankly I don't know enough about the music, tv, and movie industries to tell you why it turned out this way, but to the layman it does seem like a perplexing "shut up and take my money" situation. if a service launched with a really good catalog that could at least match the convenience and quality of torrents, I would be willing to pay quite a hefty monthly fee. I have very little interest in paying for five different streaming services that will still inevitably exclude a couple of my favorite shows and movies.

It had all the DVDs, and for a while the catalog really was expanding into major titles and releases. Everyone assumed that eventually the DVD catalog would be entirely available digitally, but that never happened because of greed.

> By contrast the music industry manages to cooperate and get their content available across the various streaming services and consequently I haven't pirated music for a long long time.

You can get pretty much any TV shows or movies on iTunes or Google Play.

For sure you won't be able to access every TV shows or movies for 15$ a month... that's just absurd.

I watch Stranger Things and The Office re-runs on business trips. Once The Office is gone I'll be gone as well.

I agree multiple services is crazy & inconvenient. that isn't an excuse to do something illegal.

Remember the good old days of Netflix when you could rent quality movies on DVDs in addition to streaming? Quality has been going down for years now. I'm intermittently subbed but less and less frequently. Oh well.

and this was after 5 years of hearing your friends tell you the same thing right

I honestly don't see how you came to this conclusion yesterday instead of several years ago and consciously chose to not share an account or ignore netflix completely

One upside to streaming services is how easy they are to cancel and resume.

I regularly suspend and resume Netflix, HBO Now, etc. based on what I'm currently watching. It's very easy to do this, especially if the service is paid for using Google Store / Apple Store subscriptions.

Compare to the hell you go through trying to contact Comcast and cancel service.

I picture a meta-service that manages this. When you click to play a show, it quickly and automatically signs you up for whichever service, and if you haven't watched a show on that service for more than 2 weeks, it cancels your subscription. Presumably the problem would be that streaming sites might not like customers canceling their service 4 or 5 times per year.

It's a better alternative than consumers turning to piracy. Let's be real, it's making a comeback because of this. The market is getting too saturated for everyone to charge $15/mo. Prices have to drop or another option is needed, or else we'll again see the piracy that Netflix "destroyed".

I would much prefer a blanket ban on production and distribution in the same company.

We would have none of these problems if Netflix couldn't produce its own shows and Disney couldn't make its own streaming service


Would you also be okay if software developers couldn’t distribute their own software?

You mean software companies owning their own aggregator storefronts? Yes. I'd for banning Steam or Epic from both making games and owning the storefront if it meant Apple and Google had to give them up too. No one says music companies or even movie companies can't sell their own stuff on their own site. What they are saying is that just like the antitrust laws made it illegal for movie companies to also own the theaters, no one in thIe digital age should be able to vertically or horizontally monopolize either. I.E. The law that already exists should apply today too.

Let’s take that to the next level.

Microsoft couldn’t sell third party software that integrates with Office. GCP and AWS couldn’t run marketplaces that sold services from third party companies like ElasticSearch and Mongo labs. Who would be hurt worse if AWS stop selling ElasticCo and Mongolabs hosted services and just sold their own ElasticSearch service and Mongo compatible DocumentDB?

Walmart couldn’t sell Walmart branded goods. CVS couldn’t sell cheaper versions of name brand drugs, restaurants couldn’t sell name brand sodas and their own food.

How far do you want to take it?

Seeing that if Netflix couldn’t create their own content and had to buy content from third parties do you think that would help Netflix more or give other studios even more leverage to raise their prices?

What if Apple said fine - we can’t offer Apple Music and Spotify so we will just kick Spotify off the platform and not allow third party games and only allow games through Apple Arcade.

They could also kick off Office and force everyone to use iWork.

But why stop there? Let’s also make a law that says Apple can’t sell third party accessories and Apple products in their physical Apple store and Google can’t sell Pixel devices along with third party phones on their website.

How about we just enforce the law that already exists. You completely missed where I said outlawing aggregated storefronts, and just went to a straw man argument I didn't make. Netflix making their own content and being a distributor is against vertical integration laws, it's just not being enforced. Microsoft selling their own product isn't an issue. Amazon/AWS/Kindle publishing should be forcibly broken up. Amazon controls the entire vertical it's a monopoly that positions it's own products at an advantage. The Microsoft store controlling the only access to Windows would be a problem.

Your AWS example falls flat on it's face the product you're still buying is hosting, not an Elastic license. That's like suggesting because a television comes with a free soundbar it's illegal. No one is suggesting that. Stop using the slippery slope against common sense policies that would prevent the market concentrating on the hands of a few gatekeepers.

You completely missed where I said outlawing aggregated storefronts, Netflix making their own content and being a distributor is against vertical integration laws, it's just not being enforced.

Because that law doesn’t exist.

If it did do you think that every media company could blatantly break that law and the government do nothing?

Microsoft selling their own product isn't an issue.

Microsoft also sells third party products that integrate with their offerings....

Your AWS example falls flat on it's face the product you're still buying is hosting, not an Elastic license.

That is also incorrect. AWS offers its own ElasticSearch hosted service where it can only offer the open source subset,


but ElasticCo also sells the full license through the AWS marketplace where they host the commercial version on AWS.


I would be okay with all of this.

There aren't problems with shops selling their own product as long as their core competence is making that product.

There is a problem when a store with significant market share starts paying to produce product it controls.

In that case Disney is in the clear because they are only selling content on their streaming service that they own. So are you saying that Disney shouldn’t be able to sell their own digital content on the Internet? Their “core competence” is producing video content.

In that case neither should any other software company.

Are you also against Showtime Originals and HBO making “Game of Thrones”? Do we really want to go back to the era where all of the cable companies basically just showed reruns from network TV and a few syndicated shows?

There is always a problem if a shop has exclusive right to sell a non-commodity product.

In that case all software vendors should have to use third party resellers? No one should be able to exclusively sell their own products on their own site?

I assume you implicitly mean that exclusive streaming deals shouldn't be allowed either. If so, I agree (if not, then the whole scheme can be trivially worked around).

Movies (or games, music, books) aren't commodities. When single vendors can get exclusive distribution rights, the space becomes much less competitive, and this removes the benefits customers are supposed to get from competition.

Perhaps something a bit more flexible, such as statutory licensing fees and availability 1 year after initial distribution. Everything being available for anyone to license without restriction at a set price structure. Distributors of course would be free to negotiate cheaper rates for more obscure content.

Not to mention that there are still gaps in various TV shows on any online service.

I can't remember the show, but a year or so ago I saw like seasons 1 to 3 on Netflix, season 4 was available on Amazon for $1.99 an episode, and the current season episodes 8 through current were available via a cable subscription's on demand service.

So even if you paid for it all using multiple different services, you still couldn't legally watch the first 7 or so episodes of the show.

I'm normally very against pirating, but I had absolutely no qualms about doing it there.

> Presumably the problem would be that streaming sites might not like customers canceling their service 4 or 5 times per year.

Maybe they "bundle" to avoid the constant cancelling.

Sure, bundle, but it would probably be done by a 3rd party aggregator. Hard to imaging competing content providers joining forces, and anyway it could be seen as monopolistic market manipulation. This 3rd part would probably want some clever branding for this. All streaming generally enters the home through a wire, so maybe they call is Wire? Though big wires are often called a cable, so maybe they just call it Cable? :)

I thought about something similar in a previous post [0]. What if you ran a service that floated a large number of accounts and circulated logins for a larger number of users? At the moment it looks like sharing accounts is legal [1] but I'm sure the services would clamp down on it they thought it costs them money.

0. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20732231

1. https://www.androidauthority.com/netflix-account-sharing-100...

I would settle for a meta-recommendation service by subscription. Subscriber and housemates list 40 to 100 things they want to watch over the next few months to a year, and set a monthly video budget in money and time, and the service suggests: subscribe to streaming service A for N months & watch <list of shows>, and in some future month subscribe to service B and watch <list>, C, D, etc. with suggestion updates every month, and additions to the “want to watch” list whenever. Service subscription can overlap, of course.

Viewers/subscribers get to watch what they want (and perhaps a bunch of other stuff from service A, B, etc.)

As time passes, want-to-watch lists get longer, or pruned, and recommendations of other shows to explore, like TiVo or Netflix, can improve.

I now think of HBO (for GoT/The Deuce/Silicon Valley) and Showtime (for Billions) now as billed toggle switches that get flipped every few months and not really as continuously available channels.

It could even try to optimize the cost by buying/renting movies on others platforms like Google Play. I can get GoT season 8 for 23.99$ CAD on Google Play while it would cost me (and it did) 2 months of 19.98$ CAD service over Crave + HBO.

Provided cancelling ends your service at the next billing period you should always cancel immediately rather than wait 2 weeks.

And if people start doing that they'll implement 'eary cancellation fees' just like the cell companies.

Or maybe an arbitrage/all you can eat buffet where you pay x per month to watch y shows from z services?

Prime Video and maybe Apple TV are already close to this.

Another nice thing is you can find out the actual price on their website. No "introductory price" with an unmentioned actual price. No potential installation fees, etc...

Netflix has slightly reduced the value of this because it now resets your viewing history each time you do this. This means losing recommendations, which personally I find valuable.

That just means I'd be less likely to restart my subscription

Interesting, I wonder if that is driven from a business aspect or as I suspect - some data regulatory aspect. Can easily see why they would not want to keep data on somebody who had in effect canceled there subscription.

May I ask, with netflix - do you cancel your account or just suspend subscription and just re-enable with your account later? Not used the service but trying to ascertain if it's a case of paused subscription or canceled account to achieve that. As if the later case, then I'd say it is due to your GDPR, data protection acts throughout the World and they are working with best interests, albeit against the grain in this instance. Solution would be the ability to export and import history - pushing the data retention aspect for the customer firmly into the customers hands. Again I see no business case for them doing this other than outlined and be more in there interest to retain said data in case you did resub.

EDIT ADD - had a look and you can export your viewing history, though no ability to import later that I can see, did raise it on feedback with them, maybe it will change. https://help.netflix.com/en/node/101917

When I click on Cancel Membership, I see this message:

> If you restart within 10 months, your profiles, favorites, viewing preferences and account details will be waiting for you.

Aha, thank you. Seems a reasonable way of them handling it.

I currently subscribe to HBO Now

I currently have Amazon Video, Hulu and Funimation

Amazon Video comes with my Amazon Prime Hulu comes with my Spotify Funimation comes with Hulu

I currently have access to Netflix via sharing

so for movie only consumption I only pay for HBO Now

for all media consumption I pay for HBO Now and Spotify

I was thinking the other day that it would make sense to rotate services so I have a different one every three months.

Netflix has reshaped the whole industry for the better. Netflix by itself at $13 per month is nearly as much content as you'd get in a small cable package in the "old days of TV." Of course, in the future, if you actually tried to watch everything available, you'd be paying for some crazy mega-bundle like the old cable days. Otherwise, things are clearly better as Netflix runs away with streaming and forces the other media companies to compete.

Eh... it's turning out that Netflix just introduced a new medium for cable.

Now that every content owner is starting their own services, we're losing the thing that made Netflix revolutionary: loads of quality and diverse content under one subscription.

Personally, the shows I'm interested in are spread across a half dozen services... and only one or two really warrant full engagement (versus "background entertainment")... so obviously it's back to bittorrent for me.

>Eh... it's turning out that Netflix just introduced a new medium for cable.

The thing no one really talks about is that cable companies never really made (relatively) that much money. The content producers are the ones that have always made the real money. Most of your bill goes to them. Ultimately, Netflix is just another middle man between you and the content. You still have to pay for wires but now there's another hand taking their share. In the long term they can't be cheaper.

The reason it was cheaper was that for a long time they were seen as free additional revenue for content producers. Like someone making a living off of discarded garbage. Eventually the people throwing that stuff away wise up and want their normal cut. We are pretty much there at this point.

> we're losing the thing that made Netflix revolutionary: loads of quality and diverse content under one subscription.

You are forgetting at a amazingly low price. People are cancelling Netflix because it's "too expensive now" while it's still quite a bit cheaper than cable.

People have an hard time considering paying 2 streaming service, while it is still cheaper than cable service.

i'm wondering the same. currently a Netflix subscriber. but back in the day i had a NAS box hitting a preconfigured rss feed with the shows i watched. was pretty convenient and the NAS could stream to every device on my wifi

Netflix is turning into just another premium channel as they lose content. You can even buy it as part of your cable subscription with some providers.

The problem with netflix is that it isnt really a library of content. Its ok as a direct cable tv substitute if you just want something to watch, but when i want to watch a specific movie, even popular classics, netflix usually doesnt have it available. Despite this people seem to think its a viable replacement for having copies of files.

With old TV, you at least had a unified interface - channel numbers or DVR - to access everything. You were also a bit limited with devices - TV of course worked, but being able to use a pc, tablet or phone was only for the few of us savvy enough to run something like mythtv.

Removing price and commercials from the discussion, the big benefit streaming brought was a way to overcome the technical limitation that meant there was a broadcast schedule. Instead, you can watch any show at any time.

The new services are much worse about several of these. Let's again assume price is a non issue so you subscribe to everything.

First, you have annoying problem of remembering which service or app to use for each show. If available on multiple services, you have to remember which one you were watching on so it preserves your place.

Second, you also have problems with availability: service x doesn't work on device A, but service y only works on device A. This means switching inputs, or limiting what show you can watch based on what devices you currently have available. There's even more frustrating problems with this, where for example, service x will work on PC, but not with surround sound.

Third, you have to use a different user interface and navigation structure for each app. Annoyingly, these will sometimes update and change their UI in radical ways without asking, and these changes won't happen on all devices at the same time, so you have even more interfaces to remember.

This reminds me of the old "pirate vs paying customer" infographic [1] where the overall experience is markedly worse for paying customers.

I haven't had cable for over a decade, and when I did, it was all PVR'd via mythtv. My tv watching experience has been via mythtv, xbmc, Kodi and Plex. I tolerate Netflix for convenience, and YouTube as a separate app because it's unique. I've tried having other services, but found them too annoying for the reasons I started above - and it didn't help that they all had significantly worse interfaces than Plex and Netflix.

[1] https://m.imgur.com/gallery/DnQYR8S

In general, the fact that UI is tied to content is stupid and probably indicates market failure. It's frustrating that I'm stuck with Spotify's one-size-fits-all UI when the large majority of the monthly payment goes to licensing the music.

100% agreed, and this is a problem not just in music and video space, but with most Internet services in general. Much like UI shouldn't be tied to content, UI shouldn't be tied to services either. APIs are a thing for a reason.

Is libspotify dead now? There used to be e.g. a Clementine plugin which worked pretty well.

> First, you have annoying problem of remembering which service or app to use for each show. If available on multiple services, you have to remember which one you were watching on so it preserves your place.

On Apple TV this is pretty much solved by the os. You just tell it what you want to watch and it shows you where you can watch it. I believe it handles the resume use case as well.

> First, you have annoying problem of remembering which service or app to use for each show. If available on multiple services, you have to remember which one you were watching on so it preserves your place.

Amusingly enough, Comcast solves this with their set top box and remote. They search across multiple providers, including major streaming providers, and return you a list of where you can watch a show at.

There are a few other players in this field (it is also built into some smart TVs I believe), but I was amused to watch my mother navigate streaming services with ease using voice commands.

It only required a $100 a month cable TV subscription!

The biggest game changer for me with streaming is I watch less TV. Before streaming I either had to maintain a complex balance with my never large enough DVR or watch shows when the network decided (I'm looking at you Channel 9 in Australia putting Star Trek on at 11pm on Tuesday and Thursday nights). Before that I had VHS, so many VHS.

With streaming I watch maybe an hour or two at most, then I stop, confident I can pickup whenever (and increasingly wherever I want). I don't worry about my wife deleting my Star Trek for her Firefly.

Unlike DVDs we can catch up on an episode of a shared show while traveling.

Though I did get hooked on a Netflix show in the UK that isn't available in Australia, four weeks later I can't even remember the title.

Glad I kept my torrent/VPN box ready to go. I was happy to pay a small reasonable fee but it’s clear things are just turning into the overpriced nickel-and-dimming shit-show we had not even 10 years back. So yeah I’ll pull what I actually watch and they get nothing again.

Yesterday I wanted to watch a movie that was in theatres in spring.

I checked Netflix, of course not there I should have known better, oh but it knew what I was looking for and showed me knockoffs "related to" what I was actually looking for. Having spent most of my life making fun of knockoffs, that was a bad move Netflix.

I checked Amazon Video, hey the movie is there, but not included in my prime subscription, and I can only stream it if I buy the movie for $20, no option to even rent the movie for 48 hours. Okay, thats a non-starter, I know Amazon Video just resyndicates from a shared catalogue of movies so that means every rent-streaming service will have it, but maybe under different pricing.

So I checked the unlikely Playstation Store. Not listed

Okay at this point I go to Google, because the "where can I stream it" sites have been replaced by a mere addition of a feature on Google where on top of the search results underneath the ratings it shows you where you can stream it. Exhibit A of features masquerading as companies getting replaced quickly by Google. Showed that everyone was charging $20 with no option to rent.

Well, I was going to rent it. Other interfaces should have an easy search that shows the availability of a title on multiple streaming services and its price. But after this bar, if you wanted me to stop worrying about who has a license for copyright distribution, thats how you get me to stop worrying about who has a license. The burden has never been on the consumer anyway, we've just been assuming Walmart properly secured the license, and that the person with DVDs on a towel outside doesn't. But we never knew and never had any liability, until we were distributing it ourselves. So fire up the dusty old torrent software and turn off the upload feature. Within 10 minutes I was watching my 4gb H264 1080P version of what I wanted to see.

> Yesterday I wanted to watch a movie that was in theatres in spring.

That's sadly most likely the issue. I bet it was a big movie? Most likely they are just keeping the good old traditional schedule. Release at the movie Theater, few months later release for sell, few months later release for rental. They added a few months later a release on streaming platform but that's it...

That's absurd that they still do that but I guess waiting a few months isn't the worse to save a few bucks.

Was not a big movie, < $100m box office, just a bad user experience :)

I’m feeling nostalgic for the days of paying $2 an episode on iTunes. The future where there’s 10 shows I want to watch and I have to pay for 10 separate $15 monthly services to watch them is almost here and it sucks. I also get to learn 10 different app UIs to watch them, and enjoy constantly logging back into them all whenever whatever box I’m using randomly logs them out.

Why feel nostalgic? You still can.

If I want to watch any of the new Star Trek series I’m going to have to bite the bullet and subscribe to CBS. For starters.

Netflix is another given. Do these content channels even release shows on Blu ray and iTunes a year later like they used to?

Why is that bad thing? Typically individual episodes are $2.99. You can sign in on the app for a month, immediately cancel so you don’t get charged for an additional month and pay $6.

I don't even mind the expense so much. It's the experience. I'd happily pay more just to have TV watching be a pleasure. This whole app experience where you have to pull out your phone and log into some site over and over again when it "forgets", learn multiple UIs, have commercials that mess with you (Choose a commercial to "interact" with for 3 commercials, or choose to watch 6 commercials!)

It's just awful. It makes me miss CRTs with rabbit ears and a VHF and UHF dial.

I agree somewhat. But I have an Apple TV 4K. The CBS All Access app knows that I’ve already subscribed through iTunes and I subscribe to the no commercials subscription.

As far as apps that use your provider log in, with the Apple TV, you log on once with your provider and with your permission, all of the apps use your system configured login.

Too much content exclusive to subscription services.

A while back, I was in this exact situation. I got into The Expanse (which, if you like hard sci-fi, you definitely need to check out, it's superbly made). I have a Netflix subscription, obviously. I devoured the first two seasons on there. Then I discovered that Season 3 onwards would be an Amazon exclusive. Then I discovered that Seasons 1 & 2 had also moved to Amazon. I don't have a Prime subscription any more because I can't justify it (and I don't want to be tempted to buy more useless junk than I already own). I managed to get another free trial long enough to watch Season 3, but not long enough to re-watch the previous two seasons. But when Season 4 comes out, I'm going to be in exactly the same situation as satellite TV - I don't want to watch anything else on Amazon Prime Video, I just want The Expanse. But I'll have to get a Prime subscription if I want to watch it before it comes out on Blu-Ray, and thus everything that comes with it, which to me is just junk.

Cord-cutting accomplished exactly nothing. Streaming services copied the exact model of the satellite companies (willingly or not; I'm willing to bet the distributors squeezed the streaming companies just like music publishers, since they're holding all the rights). There is no incentive whatsoever to make a single show available on multiple platforms.

This also explains perfectly why piracy will never die. Consumers want access to the content they are interested in. They do NOT want arbitrary complications thrown in their way.

A return to the bad old days of cable bundles, coupled with the current average Internet speed, would just bring back the good old days of torrenting.

This is exactly what I feel I've been driven to this last year. I don't want to have all my media spread around on a tenfold different streaming providers, nor do I want to live with the random removals of offerings that seem to happening more and more where I live.

The day I have children I want to be able to share some sort of cultural archive with them, though regular tv might probably be dead by that time, who knows.

I've started hosting my own plex server, and using torrents and actual old backups to get the content. The sad part though, is that most of the major torrent sites seem really dead compared to the haydays. What are some good options these days?

I miss TvTorrents.

It had hard-to-find shows, and it kept track of who downloaded what, so if there were no active seeders, you could ping some people to seed it so they could earn credits.

Fair warning - these sites have some of the obnoxious browser hijacking javascript I have ever seen (and they keep upping the ante every few months) but updating your hosts file to block the ads helps a bit - rarbg and ettv complement what is available on each other and tpb.

I rarely don't find what I'm looking for on TPB.

I want something like Bandcamp for movies and TV shows. Let me buy and download the damn things in full quality and watch them wherever/whenever/however I want them! Give me RSS/Atom feeds I can subscribe to and integrate into other tools!

I'd be more than happy to pay good money for each movie/episode, and would regularly pay more than the suggested price to creators I especially enjoy, like you can do on Bandcamp.

I believe Vimeo used to do something like this - iirc once you bought a movie you could download the original as well. Don't think it moved past a few independent films/series though.

Startup idea: Make a website where I can push a single button to pay for and activate one month of a streaming service. Make the one month subscription expire at the end of the month automatically (no auto-renew).

This way I avoid paying for time during which I watch nothing, and I can easily activate a new month almost instantly.

One poblem with that idea:

Many streaming services are quite shitty, don't allow you to link directly to a show, and don't allow streaming on PC (or don't allow it any higher than standard def), and most people want to watch their TV on TVs, which means your service needs to work with the various services available on the various common streaming hardware.

I swear Google Play Movies is the most convoluted difficult to use UI to play video I've ever seen. I bought a show in it once, but I bought the entire series, which shows up in the UI separately from every other season. (So it shows as seasons "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1 through 6"). Every time I want to watch an episode, I need to open, go to my library, go to TV shows, pick the show, scroll to the "full series" season, then scroll from episode 1 to the episode I last watched to play it.

It's insane that it's that difficult! And knowing how difficult it is I absolutely will never order another show from that ecosystem again.

In all fairness, I get the feeling that a lot of Google services are there because Google has to have them. Apple have them. When people buy an Android they want somewhere they can go to get stuff. But for Google, that's it. There's very little extra effort expended to make it nice to use. They've just ticked a box. They offer films. That's it. It'll sit there and gather dust for a few years before Google sees that competitors have moved on, so they go and give their service a face lift. Then another 5 years of nothing.

Why stick with the month paradigm at all though? If youre gonna go partially down that road, why not make it pay for only the program you want to watch. Like YouTube is doing for movies, series etc but at a lower price point. If someone is willing to pay $1 per hour of video, etc, that seems ideal to me.

You can just sign up and immediately cancel to make sure t doesn’t renew at the end of the month.

Is it reasonable to expect an all-in-one streaming service? There is a lot of media, old and new, local and foreign. I don't know if a single provider can give you all the access a person wants for a price that the consumer is willing to pay.

http://thepiratebay.org does. Like the good old days.

And the media companies did it to themselves...

I get the humor in your statement, but there's a lot of truth there. At the end of the day, when Netflix, Hulu, and Prime don't have it, tpb does. In perfect, uninterrupted HD. The only downside? Waiting 5 minutes for it to download. It's hard to justify the $15/mo I'm paying for Netflix when that is an option, and especially hard to justify paying for all 3 (which I'm doing, for some reason.)

> which I'm doing, for some reason

Convenience has value. Even if tpb is easy enough, there's still friction. So long as streaming services stay convenient and cheap enough, they will keep customers. The interesting dynamic is that the more players enter the space, the less convenience there is. Justwatch.com is already trying to add that convenience back, but the fact that we need that meta step is already frustrating.

Maybe it's just because I was doing it for 10 years until Netflix got good, but now that Netflix no longer cuts it for 90% of what I want to watch it has been really easy to slip back into pirating.

> The interesting dynamic is that the more players enter the space, the less convenience there is.

This is exactly what happened to me. When Netflix had literally everything, it was the only place I looked. Now that it doesn't have everything, I'm not going to go through the litany of Hulu, prime, etc, I just go straight to tpb. So I cancelled Hulu etc. And because tpb is second nature and it always has what I'm looking for, I just go there first... so I cancelled Netflix.

It's like watching the 2000 p2p shift all over again. The media companies don't understand how to build a business model that fits seemlessly into society.

> The interesting dynamic is that the more players enter the space, the less convenience there is.

That's only because they're allowed to have exclusive deals. If and when streaming services will get commoditized, this won't be a problem - much like having more grocery stores around you doesn't make shopping more inconvenient.

Let there be friction so the techies can go back to being alone in pirating. It wasn’t an issue until everybody started doing it!

I don't find the quality on tpb to be all that great. Sometimes you get super-compressed audio, or it only has the dialogue dubbed into Russian with no English option, or random other problems. It's kind of a crapshoot.

I know there are other torrent sites and probably private groups that are well curated, but I imagine you have to maintain some seed ratio to be in there and I'm not sure I could get away with that.

There are streaming pirating services like popcorn time which means you don't wait 5 minutes. Though these also typically have low selections and low seed counts.

Pirate Bay doesn’t have lots of stuff and if it does, the quality varies, sometimes they have baked in subtitles in foreign languages, etc.

then i have only had good luck. the only problem is the isp attaches to all of the links and snoops your ip, and telecoms hapoily enforce because they are often the media company or smaller than the media/telecom conglomerate.

Well the other downside is having to sign up for a VPN...

On the up side, you now have a VPN.

If you want to break the law, then of course anything is possible. In any case, all you are doing by pirating is telling the media companies how badly you want their product. That is going to tell them to fight harder against piracy. The only ethical option IMHO is to crowd-fund and pay people directly to create content.

I feel like you're saying the opposite actually. You don't value their product enough to actually pay for it. It's available on TPB? Well, sure I'll watch it, why not. No torrent? Too bad, I'll just watch something else.

We have more options for entertainment than ever. More shows are produced by more studios, we have plenty of foreign options like anime or BBC shows instead of being limited to our region, video games compete for attention, and there's been a huge explosion of independent things online. Some people just sit and watch things on YouTube.

What hasn't increased? An individual's time and attention. There are a finite number of hours in the day.

Static demand, increased supply and an unwillingness to pay the asking price. That sounds like pretty simple economics to me.

Yeah, but content producers still haven't realized that our time is more valuable than their usually garbage product, their product is overvalued, and no one feels bad about pirating because copyright is so fundamentally broken by the same content providers that the contract between the public and producers has been totally violated.

Entertainment still isn't a commodity, though. Just because there are hundreds of sci-fi movies and TV shows, doesn't mean I can pick up any of them and enjoy it as much as one that I wanted to that wasn't available.

If I really want to watch, say, Star Trek movies and Continuum TV show, then if CBS decides to pull the Star Trek movies from Netflix and spin off their own streaming service doesn't mean I'll just find something else on Netflix, or that I'll subscribe to CBS too; I'll keep watching Continuum on Netflix and head to TPB for the missing movies.

If movie studios want to stop piracy, they have to stop being so greedy. Streaming services shouldn't be allowed to get exclusive licensing deals on movies/shows. The market would sort itself out and people would be able to watch all they needed from one or two services whose UI they most like.

(And honestly, UI should be unbundled too. Streaming service's crappy four-button player can't beat VLC.)

> You don't value their product enough to actually pay for it. It's available on TPB? Well, sure I'll watch it, why not. No torrent? Too bad, I'll just watch something else.

I don't buy that argument. Its analogous to saying if Windows was not available on pirate platforms people would "just" switch to Linux.

People making content are very very good at keeping people hooked. It partially explains all the people who binge watch on Netflix..

Alternatively, the only rule about us...t is you don’t talk about us...t.

There is a lot of stuff you can’t find reliable seeds for on bit torrent sites if it isn’t popular.

u mean .org

A statutory/compulsory license could solve this. It is already in use for internet radio in the US, and streaming video is not too different. Basically you can pay a royalty set by law instead of negotiated individually with each company, but the rate is high enough that it still makes sense to negotiate a lower rate in many cases.

There is no compulsory license for on demand music like Spotify - only music where you don’t get to choose your songs. Do you really want a Pandora like service for video?

So if we want to make their content compulsory, are you okay with making software licensing compulsory?

I would love to be able to watch everything in one place without ads, and be happy to pay for it.

There is no reason that the licensing would only apply when you do not choose your shows or movies. Internet radio stations currently pay 22 cents for every 100 "plays" by those paying a subscription fee. And the system works well, creators are compensated, streaming companies can run a successful business, consumers do not need to subscribe to 5 different services to listen to the music they want.

Internet radio stations currently pay 22 cents for every 100 "plays" by those paying a subscription fee.

Movies cost a lot more than music and the price you site isn’t for on demand music - only for services where you can’t choose your songs.


creators are compensated,

Not really:



streaming companies can run a successful business,

Not really...


The cost of a movie ticket, or movie rental, or dvd/blu ray purchase is generally fixed within a narrow band. TV series prices vary a little more, but the vast majority is still within a similar range. A compulsory license price could be set that would both fairly compensate rights holders, and also to allow businesses to profitably provide streaming to consumers.

Internet radio, and streaming music companies pay billions in royalties each year. For a variety of reasons about 75% of this does not go to artists and goes instead to record labels and other intermediaries, but this does not mean that creators are not compensated, or that they would be better off without internet radio and streaming.

Spotify becoming profitable amid a competitive industry is a great example of a successful business.

Spotify said they wouldn’t be profitable for the year. I provided the link above.

You can look at the different published Netflix deals and see how much they are borrowing to license content to get an idea of how much it costs.

I think Spotify handles this pretty well.

You have a central service that license holders contribute content to. The central service negotiates prices with the license holders and charges a fee to cover its aggregate expenses.

Although music is a different product than video content, I'd really like to see a model like this going forward.

Right now to watch the shows I want, I often have to: (1) Download and keep (multiple) apps installed / updated (2) Have several bills each month for each service (3) Wait a period of X days before the content is available post-airing (4) Watch ads before and during the content

I don't have any of these issues using a service like Spotify.

As long as the single price of Spotify-but-for-video is less than the sum of all the services I want, I won't feel like I'm paying for things I don't need.

Honestly people loved to pay $50+/month for cable before. If I could do that, except able to watch whatever I want, not have to suffer through ads, or be fixed to some viewing schedule, it would be pretty compelling.

Spotify is pretty imperfect at this also. Issues over rates paid aside, albums disappear seemingly at random (presumably failures in license negotiation, but users aren't provided any information about why an album is no longer available) and metadata is a mess. Spotify duplicates albums in my library, indicates that albums are not available when they've instead been replaced with a new version (which is identical aside from Spotify's internal references), and track info changes constantly (old Soviet albums seem to shift between translated English titles, Russian titles transliterated into Latin script, and the actual proper Russian titles on a monthly basis).

The single provider aggregating content from many rightsholders model seems stymied by rightsholders' inability to provide standardized information about their content on a consistent basis.

I think the difference is that Spotify has the market cornered. What the alternative? Pandora[0]? YouTube?

All three also aren't producing good original content. Prime, HBO, and Netflix all have great shows to watch. Hulu even is getting in there. Now Disney will be soon. So the market is saturated, but there's also better content.

[0] I use Pandora because while I was paying for Spotify premium the interface broke on Linux and my phone. Not allowing me to create new stations. They told me to fuck off so I stopped paying them. Pandora isn't that much worse.

> Watch ads before and during the content

Which service does this? That seems quite crazy and you even define that as "often"!

> Honestly people loved to pay $50+/month for cable before.

That's the price of 3 services and more... people start complaining when they have to pay for 2... Netflix screwed people perception of content value.

Even if you're pirating everything, with the right tools, it can easily appear to be just that. There's software like Sick Beard, sonarr, CouchPotato that will automate downloads for you. Plex, Kodi, or even a Roku or Apple TV pointed at a hard drive or NAS gets you the interface. It's not that difficult to set it up so new episodes of TV shows automatically appear on your TV, ready to watch. (And if you're not on the east coast you can even get shows before they air locally!) This of course is just scratching the surface of what's possible.

Whether it is reasonable or not, the rules that say we need to pay for video at all are more what you'd call...guidelines.

By and large, people will obey when they consider it to be affordable and fair, and they won't when they don't. Just like every other rule in the world.

It's reasonable to want one but unreasonable to expect one, given history. As far as I'm concerned, unified search is the killer app of Apple TV.

I'm attempting to build a service that provides all that, plus music and books. Basically all media that can be delivered digitally, but has been sold physically.

Unfortunately it might be an uphill battle because Disney just won a huge lawsuit against VidAngel, who was providing a similar service. They are still fighting, and I think I'm different enough that I could survive even if they don't.

Why is that the desired end goal? Isn’t a single entity controlling distribution almost always the sign of something deeply wrong with a market?

It's one of those scenarios where it sounds like it could be great for the consumer but usually ends up being horrible for the content producer because there's no competition, so the 1 platform can do whatever it pleases. Eventually it becomes bad for consumers because quality content producers go elsewhere (such as making their own platform).

You see this happen not just with movies and shows but any digital media that can be distributed across multiple platforms.

I think their point is not anti-competition, but rather anti-fragmentation.

Really the issue is an issue of frontends. If there were a frontend that transparently handled all the different providers and let you pay for what you wanted to watch when you wanted to watch it, that would be much more pleasant to navigate.

But media companies want to control the frontend, for both lock-in and advertising potential. And don't forget DRM!

Competition is fragmentation.

> Competition is fragmentation.

No it is not. I don't have to buy a separate car or a separate gas cap or whatever to go fill up my car with gas. There's a standard that car manufacturers follow and a standard that gas stations follow that allow them to interop without issue. I can stop at a Diamond Shamrock, a Wawa, a 7-11, a Sinclair, a Texaco, or a Phillips 66 and get gas at any of them.

And while I'm filling up that gas, I have to pay for it. At most places I can use my Visa, my Discover, my MasterCard, or walk inside and pay cash. American Express is of course the outlier here.

Competition can exist and flourish despite agreed upon standards. A standard to watch all your video from one app despite buying/renting/subscribing to multiple services does not mean an end to competition. To the contrary it would make me significantly more likely to try new services.

In fact Amazon's model for this proves it can work. It's just that their frontend is tied to their subscription service, rather than being its own entity. But I watched Ash vs Evil Dead on Amazon by buying a Starz subscription. I watched Game of Thrones by buying an HBO subscription on Amazon. It was seamless from my perspective and I was able to watch in my favored player.

Now we just need something that can do that but is not tied to a specific service. We'll call it MetaPlayer. I open up MetaPlayer and search for Stranger Things. Since I have a Netflix subscription, I watch it and that's it. I then search for The Simpsons. I don't have Hulu, so I'm prompted to sign up, preferably with one click, and then I can watch the Simpsons the exact same way I watched Stranger Things. And so on.

There kinda is a metaplayer, its called reelgood

It isn't when it's commoditized.

I have 4 or 5 grocery stores within a short walking distance of me right now. I can buy roughly the same stuff in all of them. I usually go to whichever is cheapest for the stuff I want to buy. They differ in sizes, so they don't stock all the same things, but there's nothing stopping any of them to sell any of the products the others do. This is how healthy competition works.

But you can’t. I can only get my wife’s cold brew coffee and high protein bread at giant or target. I have to go to Costco to get their house brand items. I have to go to Trader Joe’s to get their house brand frozen foods. Over a month I probably go to four different grocery stores to shop for the whole family.

The situation is still different than if you had to subscribe to 4 different grocery stores because each chain owns exclusive right to certain categories of items.

There's friction in the market that prevents all grocery stores in the area from having the same set of items at the same prices, but the situation is an order of magnitude better for consumers than what you have with video/music/game distribution.

I also don’t understand what’s so bad about clicking a few buttons to subscribe or unsubscribe, compared to the alternative of having a monopoly like your cable company to deal with, which already proved to be a terrible experience.

In theory it doesn't have to be a single entity. With compulsory licensing there could be multiple competing services that have all available content. In music there are a half dozen services.

No, because network effect are a thing. A monopoly isn't bad. What's bad is a dominating player than can control the way an entire market works. One that manipulates that market, stifles innovation, and gouges consumers. There's a pretty good correlation of monopolies (or dominating players) doing this, but that's the problem, not that few players exist. (Note: few players can exist for many reasons)

> Is it reasonable to expect an all-in-one streaming service?

Philosophically, yes. Vertical integration reduces competition, reduces standardization, leaves less room for innovative newcomers, and is ultimately bad for consumers.

Economically, it's plausibly more profitable to play the bundling and siloing games.

Is it bad for consumers? Monopolies aren't always bad. Some businesses work better because of the network effect. Granted they can price gouge and do a lot of market manipulation, but if they aren't don't that I don't think it's bad for consumers. But I will agree that having that power it's more likely that they will.

Just trying to say it's much more nuanced.

Is it reasonable to expect an all-in-one streaming service?

Sure, if you're willing to pay $200 per month. (Which, frankly, would be a fair price to access all movies and TV ever made.)

Interlink. Like cellphones allow you to choose the UI you want to call the person you want on any network, I think the future should be all services cross licensing content.

They can't. But if there was a single standard for low-overhead payments to these companies I'd definitely use more than I do today.

You're asking for a monopoly here, I don't think it ever ends well, piracy gives you what you're asking for

Popcorn Time

For me, I just don't watch as much TV content anymore. It's odd too since I still watch video but not what you would call TV content. Let's Plays, restoration videos, explanation videos, and the like are most of my content these days. Even videos about philosophy and politics (/r/BreadTube is Best Tube, hehehehehehe), so it's not the usual stuff I use to watch like scifi shows or Star Trek on repeat. In a way, I think the whole streaming Balkanization just gave me an excuse to expand beyond the old formats and genres.

I'm fascinated by this problem: How would consumers navigate a third-party aggregation application? It seems to me there needs to be a free "Kayak"-like service for film & tv discovery. Show me only what I can watch for free (because I already subscribe to my favorite channels). Develop the application on every OS that I watch content (TV, Mobile and Web).

Would consumers like navigating a UI similar to Pinterest (boards) or Spotify (playlists) on your TV? It works well for images and music...

My Roku TV does this - you type in a title, and it will show you what apps provides the movie, the prices for each, etc.

Google does too. I'm talking about discovery - most people don't know what they want to watch when they sit down in front of the TV.

I've found myself scrolling for 20-30min sometimes just looking through Netflix, then Prime, then Hulu, then HBO... just to end up watching Friends again..

justwatch and reelgood do this well but need more applications.

The false dictonomy of "disruption" is laid bare before us.

Disrupting an industry, is nothing more then bending the rules with technology as to avoid regulatory scrutiny. Long term, the disrupter needs to protect its userbase, and ends up becoming the monolith that it replaced.

History repeating itself is nothing new. Its a cycle every generation goes through.

If braves BAT (Basic Attention Token) thing could ever really take off, it'd make for a nice solution to all of this. Just sort of pitch a penny here or there, and after enough people pitching pennies the content has earned a worthy revenue.

Don't forget about your local library. I subscribe to Netflix, but I watch more movies and shows that I get on DVD and bluray from my library than I watch stuff on Netflix.

Everything is free on channel 4, 6, 10, and uhf

Interesting-FF says that nytimes.com is unsafe

Works for me. Maybe your date/time is off?

browser update, or you're getting MiTM?

My FF is up to date. I’m on NordVPN, maybe it is a time issue?

Not for me?

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