Netflix. Amazon Prime. NowTV. Disney+. Mubi.

These are not just some random streaming giants and Mubi (sorry Mubi, I love you dearly, but you know… just, you need to be this tall to ride this ride, you know what I’m saying?) these are all streaming services I am currently paying for. It doesn’t seem that bad, right? I mean, with Amazon Prime you get prime delivery (well, after all this COVID-19 ends, so maybe next June?) with NowTV you get plenty of classic Hollywood movies and most of HBO‘s finest box sets, with Disney+ you get all the movies that will soon move from Netflix and NowTV because they are all owned by Disney now, so basically 75% of all the movies ever made will end up there, and with Mubi you get great independent/cult/under-seen movies so we are all good until now. And of course, we can’t forget the one responsible for this all – Netflix, where you can still get decent movies and TV shows, and some of their content is truly awesome (Orange Is the New Black just to name my favourite).

The problem is this – people want money. Which is not bad overall, I mean, we all want to eat, buy nice things, travel (I mean, remember travelling? Good times…) and all that jazz and that’s honestly fine. But it stops being fine when big organisations think they can replicate what Netflix or Amazon Prime has done, have one or two known/beloved IPs (intellectual properties) and want to “build” a streaming service around that. And this is where we get situations like “Oh, you want stream Friends? Sure, it’s on Netflix now, but come 2021, it won’t be and you will have to get.. HBO MAX..?” The link for the full story is here.

Unfortunately, this isn’t even the end, not by a long a shot. NBC will have its own streaming platform, pulling the beloved TV show The Office from Netflix or Amazon Prime, depends where you live. The entirety of UK has apparently decided “Oi mate, we want ourselves streaming service too, only for the British!” so the BritBox has been born. I honestly wish I was joking and yes, that name sounds more like a box match where only the purest British people are allowed to compete in for a title of the most British person that’s ever britished. And I know I’m missing hundreds others I don’t either know, or care about (sorry YouTube, literally nobody cares about YouTube Premium). And this creates a problem. The problem. To paraphrase the TV show Archer:

Except pirates, replace the word “ants” with “pirates”.

The main issue is with the content all spread out, where one service will only hold this one or two TV shows and the other will only hold this, your market will fall apart quicker Michael Jackson’s nose (honestly hope it’s not too soon for this joke). Because ordinary people, and I am not using this as an insult or to discredit an average person, don’t care about movies/TV shows enough to pay for 10+ streaming platforms. They’ll only pay for 2/3 maximum and the rest… well, in an ideal world, they’d legally purchase everything else they’d to watch through reliable services to make sure artists get their cut, but in a harsh reality of this life, where some people live from paycheck to paycheck, they become pirates and to the torrents they go.

For a while, it seemed like Netflix solved the piracy issue where it wasn’t even worth pirating something, as it gave people plenty of content (old and original), so they wouldn’t even think to pirate anything. And that is the main point what these newcomers don’t understand about Netflix and why it got so big. They weren’t building a streaming service on existing content, but they’ve invested a lot of money into their originals, doing that they had attracted Hollywood big shots and the rest is history. They weren’t relying on “Hey, you LOVE The Office right? Well come right along for a ride!”

The direct result of this will be, in couple of years we will see even more headlines like this one from last year (Piracy is back, link is here) where the author is making the same points I do (in unrelated news, please follow this blog for totally relevant and original think pieces like this one).

But it doesn’t matter how many different articles on this topic will be written – here’s what’s going to (probably) happen in a couple of years:

  • We will see a service or two that will “bundle-up” the streaming services you want for a slightly better price than paying for them individually (welcome to the cable for 21st century, yay!)
  • Plenty of these streaming services will eventually fail, to the surprise of no one except the people who thought it’d be cool to have a streaming service based on a few existing IPs.
  • Artists will complain about piracy rising.
  • Industry people who approved this will be like “new phone, who dis?”
  • Industry will blame the normal consumer for being spoiled and wanting everything instantly.
  • Only the giants survive, where they can (hopefully) buy back the content that once had been taken from them.

Or maybe not, and all of these streaming services will make millions of dollars/pounds/euros and I’ll look like an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That is also possible. Unfortunately this is the kind of topic where only time will tell.

Also, BritBox is really stupid name. I feel like we’ve just accepted it, because UK’s been having some difficulties lately (Brexit anybody?) but honestly… no.

What do you think? Which streaming services are you paying for? Let me know!

Until next time,

Luke