How much are you willing to pay for movies and TV shows in 2018? Americans love options and there’s no end to the myriad ways to consume content these days — for a price. According to Fortune, the monthly cost of cable TV has increased over 40 percent since 2011; however, many consumers now bundle their cable, phone, and Internet (partly for convenience, but mostly to save money). Unfortunately, there’s often only one provider in most cities and the recent demise of Net Neutrality means that these costs are likely to escalate at an even faster pace going forward.
So, what’s a consumer to do? Enter cord-cutting and streaming services, which more and more folks are choosing, to decrease their monthly spend.
Streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu offer live TV and original content; there’s Netflix or Amazon Video, if you’re only interested in original content and re-runs; the prestige or boutique streaming services, such are HBO Now or CBS All-Access, offer more focused but limited content. Each of these services offers something slightly different, in terms of added-value or exclusive content. So much cool stuff, right?
It all sounds great, until you start adding it all up. The hook for streaming services used to be: cheaper and more personalized access to content. The devil, as they say, is in the details!
Access to streaming services obviously requires an Internet connection (ideally high-speed or broadband), and that ain’t cheap. In 2016 the average cost of a broadband Internet connection was $80 per month (varies wildly by region). Unfortunately, the value of streaming services isn’t the bargain it used to be. The emerging issue is one of “fragmentation,” with so many streaming services launching, content is becoming more and more exclusive (aka expensive).
Cord-cutting and streaming services are shaking up Hollywood, they’re changing the landscape, and the industry is responding by launching more and more streaming services. According to Variety, 22 million Americans have already made the jump (driven by millenials). There are countless ways to mix and match these services, which is a big part of their appeal. That said, choice is awesome, until there’s too much to choose from.
Let’s say you’re a comic book fan. Marvel and DC shows are available on multiple networks (Fox, FX, ABC, Freeform, SyFy, The CW, Hulu, Netflix, and soon DC Digital and Disney services). To get all of this content you’d have to subscribe to YouTube TV or Hulu (for Live TV) at a minimum, plus Netflix — all for the tidy monthly sum of roughly $130 per month (Internet: $80; YouTubeTV/Hulu: $40; Netflix: $10).
Let’s not forget that some people engage with streaming services via their smartphones, and who among us doesn’t also pay for Amazon Prime? Add all of this up (smartphone service, Amazon Prime, Internet connection, Netflix, YouTubeTV/Hulu) and you’re out somewhere in the neighborhood of $200-$250 per month. Yikes!
By the end of 2018 there will be literally dozens of streaming services, offering everything from simple a la carte (Sling TV) to sports only (NBA League Pass, MLB.tv, Fubio) and all options in between. It’s too much by any sane measure and the total subscription costs for the average consumer are already eclipsing cable (your mileage may vary). Surely, down the road there will be a reckoning, and many of these services will be acquired or simply fail. Until then, pick your content wisely, and keep a firm grip on your (virtual) wallet.