Geiger's Culture Counter: We need less streaming sites, not more


It’s not news that many people my age prefer streaming shows and movies to watching live television. Just this past Saturday I binged two seasons of different shows on Netflix. Yet just because on demand video is trendy doesn’t mean you need to create your own platform.

Last week media giant Disney unfortunately announced that it will end its partnership with Netflix, barely a year after it became home to the company’s recent theatrical releases. That deal is why we have “Rouge One: A Star Wars Story,” “Moana” and Marvel’s original shows like “Luke Cage” only a click away.

Instead of going with a tried and true platform that already has a substantial user base, Disney will create their own streaming service that will launch in 2019 along with an ESPN-focused one to be released next year. It’s obviously too earlier to tell what exactly will be offered but I doubt that a company known for putting their products in vaults will have an expansive lineup at the start.

The price has also yet to be revealed, but hopefully it won’t be too cost prohibitive. I foresee many parents buying in and treating it like a utility bill in order to placate their children, which is most likely what Disney wants.

I already wrote about the glut of streaming services when Hulu became subscription-only last year but I guess people in Hollywood don’t pay attention to a rural Colorado writer.

Since that column the user hostile problem has grown. FX+ was also announced last week and will be offering an ad-free catalog of their shows. In June AMC Premiere was unveiled as a similar service. However, don’t expect new seasons of mega-hit franchise “The Walking Dead” on there. Skybound Entertainment, the company founded by creator Robert Kirkman, signed an exclusivity deal with Amazon on Friday.

No doubt predicting Disney’s power move, Netflix recently bought comic book writer Mark Millar’s portfolio and optioned a series made by The Coen Brothers. To raise the stakes even more, on Sunday Netflix punched back at Disney by welcoming show-runner extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes—who is responsible for popular programs like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal—to their home instead of the Disney-owned ABC Studios.

In my mind that’s the right way to do it. Strengthen the competition by boosting the quality of content available, not by introducing more platforms.

Unlike HBO Now or CBS All Access, those two new services require Comcast Xfinity cable and cost money on top of the usual bill so cord-cutters are out of luck. Why should the executives care if the market is fragmented as long as you’re paying for their service along with a half dozen others? But every studio or distributor having a proprietary service isn’t economically feasible.

The day before the Disney news broke NBC sold almost the entire original lineup from their comedy-focused platform Seeso to VRV, a media company that bundles other platforms together like anime sites Crunchyroll and Funimation. It was always going to be niche but it’s never good when a major network abandons a project barely a year in.

Before Yahoo became the old Hulu they shuttered Yahoo! Screen because the viewership of  “Other Space” and “Sin City Saints” was too low. Sony’s Playstation Vue seems to be doing okay to stream live TV but they also stopped making original content like “Powers” due to a missing audience.

Sure, those companies aren’t as stable as Disney and the always in demand child-friendly content will keep the big guy safe, but the warning signs are present. Don’t hop on the bandwagon while others are jumping off.

There’s simply too much vying for folk’s wallets and eyeballs and the bubble has already begun to burst. People wished on a monkey’s paw for a la carte television and this is what we’re going to be stuck with. Happy?

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