In the article “Streaming TV Is About to Get Very Expensive — Here’s Why,” published on June 2019 in The Guardian, Stuart Heritage argues that watching television will be more expensive and finding your favorite shows will be harder. Disney, Apple, NBC, and other companies are about to launch their own streaming platforms just like Netflix, where the audience can watch content on-demand from any device. Netflix started to produce their own content in 2013, the first show being House of Cards, a power move in the content war that was to come. This changed the industry and the streaming platforms began to popularize.
Heritage declares TV will be more and more expensive due to this “content war,” making companies spend more money than ever to produce their own films and television and even creating entire streaming platforms. I don’t agree with the idea that this “war” is producing a more expensive television or a misunderstanding of consumers viewing habits.
“Everyone wants a slice of the pie,” according to Heritage. Due to the successful disruption of the industry that made Netflix, tons of other companies plan to follow suit. This will mainly affect us, the consumer, because not only will a lot of our favorite shows move to different services, but we’ll also need to pay more and more monthly subscriptions. Heritage attributes this “content war” to “a fundamental misunderstanding of viewing habits,” since, according to him, “the whole point of Netflix was that it was a relatively affordable bucket that contained an awful lot of television.” He even goes as far as to say that the golden age of streaming is over and the traditional television may be going strong.
The argument is, television is about to get expensive. To watch the content, you will need to subscribe to multiple services instead of only having all the content in one platform, but if I put together all the platforms that have announced their prices, the cost is still cheaper than traditional TV. Heritage claims, “There will be a point where viewers are going to hit their tolerance for monthly subscriptions,” and he adds, “TV will become more elitist, tiered and fragmented than it already is.” But, perhaps with more platforms and services, the contents would be more diverse and with more competition, the prices could be lower.
AT&T is one of the most popular companies that offer cable and TV services. The advertised monthly rate for AT&T TV ranges from $59.99 to $79.99 a month. Another cable and TV company is Xfinity and their plans start at $59.99 a month. Let’s do the math. If I add Netflix ($8.99), Disney ($6.99), Apple ($4.99), Hulu ($5.99), and Amazon Prime ($8.25), the result is $35.21 per month. Comparing this to cable packages, I still have $24.78 to buy more subscriptions or maybe complement my media subscriptions with Spotify or Apple Music for $9.99 per month.
Heritage claims “this content war is hinged upon a fundamental misunderstanding of viewing habits,” when actually the streaming platforms and the contents were born from the analysis of what the consumers need and want. I agree when Heritage says “everyone wants a slice of the pie” due to the successful disruption of the industry that made Netflix, but his point is confused after this. First he says, “Netflix didn’t become a monster because people wanted to watch a specific show; it became a monster because people wanted to watch everything.” The peculiar thing about this is at the beginning of the article he says “the most-watched show on US Netflix, by a huge margin, is the US version of The Office. Even though the platform pumps out an absurd amount of original programming — 1,500 hours last year — it turns out that everyone just wants to watch a decades-old sitcom. The Office accounts for 7% of all US Netflix viewing.” It seems to demonstrate a clear contradiction of the idea that people want to watch everything.
Bill Gates said it best in 1996, “Content is the King.” This phrase continues to reign. Streaming platforms understood that the content is their real differential value. As a result, “Apple will spend $4.2 billion on original programming,” Walt Disney will launch Disney+ on November with Disney films, ABC shows, Marvel films, Pixar films, Lucasfilm content, and the 20th Century Fox content, and Netflix, while they spent more than $12.04 billion in original content in 2018, this year they plan to spend $15 billion. These platforms understand viewing habits. Now you can watch the content on-demand, instead of waiting until a specific day and time, and you will have an extensive variety of content for all tastes.
The creation of new streaming platforms and the extraordinary amount of new content will bring a healthy and necessary competition that will produce low prices and a variety of content for every taste. The golden age of streaming is starting. Get hip to your preferences and favorite shows so you can subscribe to the proper platforms. But above all things, enjoy this new era of television because who knows what’s next.
- Todd Spangler, “Netflix Spent $12 Billion on Content in 2018. Analysts Expect That to Grow to $15 Billion This Year,” January 18, 2019, https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/netflix-content-spending-2019-15-billion-1203112090/