Sprint just announced free Hulu with their Unlimited Plan. T-Mobile is already packaging plans with Netflix, AT&T has been buddied up with HBO for a while now, thanks in part to the DirecTV acquisition. Teams are being picked. Sides chosen. Even the home-schooled kids know they don’t want to get picked last (Hallmark launches paid streaming service through Amazon).
With Netflix and Hulu now doing battle at the Emmys, it's clear others want to copy their success and have a direct to consumer model. We saw that Netflix has survived letting go of properties they licensed from others who continually jacked up the price and then pull their stuff all together.
So where does that leave us, as consumers?
With a hard choice.
While the Streaming Wars are getting under way, there are going to be at least 10 Major Streaming services with separate subscriptions. That want nothing to do with each other.
Amazon Prime $99/year or $8.25/mo
CBS All Access $5.99/mo
Disney, Disney Sports, Etc $5/mo for one model announced
Apple something $30 - 40/mo (estimated)
Honorable mention for Starz $8.99 and Youtube Red $9.99 (keep trying guys!)
And while these large companies have taken large bets on themselves to get a toehold in on the 2nd streaming land grab, you are going to see deals and advertisements. It will creep into our culture, it will be even more complicated to try and watch all the Emmy nominees. Shows will be announced on streaming services where you morally object to some of the other programs that appear on it.
Or better yet, I might be only able to watch new Apple programs on an Apple TV. I’m probably going to want to see Spielberg’s Amazing Stories revival but what a dick move that would be if it was Apple device proprietary. We live in an age where you can Skype someone on the space station but Marketing Executives decided that these flickering images and sounds can only come from their plastic box glued together in Malaysia because the graven silhouette of the Apple Fruit graces the outside. All hail the Apple Fruit box, give it all your monies.
Obviously this can’t go on forever. Apple who is willing to try and make up some ground with a big investment can’t just throw a billion dollars at it every year if it doesn’t work out. They’d only be able to do that for another 250 years with cash on hand, but after buying a Spielberg project and Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon thing and potentially 8 other names there might not be people to go “get” anymore that made it big on their own.
For example, three years ago Netflix decided to get into the Stand Up-Comedy market and just bought up the whole market. Now, I look to Netflix to have cool new Standup Specials. So now if Amazon decided they wanted to get into the Stand-Up comedy game, they are late to the party as all the talent got snatched up. They would have to pay more than Netflix is to compete, plus they are now battling the perception that “Every comic wants their stuff on Netflix!”
Eventually some of these competing services will be cancelled or re-purposed, some acquired or absorbed. The number will shrink, but perhaps they’ve become more friendly and Sony can have the library of films appear on Netflix without the prices going ever upward.
Don’t worry, it will get worse before it gets better. You’ll probably have the honor of getting a Bonus Unaired Episode of The Big Bang Theory for renewing for 2 years with Verizon.